Bolivia

(Map) Bolivia

BOLIVIA (ES: Bolivia; RU: Боливия), the Republic of Bolivia (ES: Republica de Bolivia; RU: Республика Боливия), is the country within the central part of the South America. It borders with Brazil to the north and north-east, with Paraguay to the south-east, with Argentina to the south, with Chile and Peru to the south-west and west. The area is 1098.6 thousand square kilometres. The population is 5.6 million persons (1980). The capital city, according to the constitution of the country, is the Sucre city, but actually is the La Paz city. The territory of Bolivia is administratively divided (1980) into 9 departments. The official languages are Spanish, Quechua, Aymara; there is distributed the huarani language (Indian). The monetary unit is the Bolivian peso. Bolivia is the member of the Organization of American States (OAS), Latin American Economic System (SELA), and other organizations.

General characteristic of the economy. GDP within the country during the 1980 amounted to 3.2 billion dollars at current prices (0.6% of the GDP of the Latin America). Of them, 16% were accounted for agriculture, 24.9% for industry, 4.1% for construction, 11.2% for transport, the remaining part for commerce and other services. There plays the important role within the economy of Bolivia the governmental sector. At the same time, there have the great significance within the industry the enterprises with participation of the foreign capital.

The industry of Bolivia is developed relatively poorly (except the mining production). Within the structure of the industry of Bolivia, there is accounted for the mining branch approximately 30% of the conventionally net production. The remaining industry is represented prevalently by the branches, which are producing consumer items for internal market (food, textile, sewing, wood processing, and other industries). There prevails the small-scale semi-artisanal production. There starts to develop itself the processing of the mineral raw materials, namely, the metallurgical and petroleum-processing industries (1981). The structure of the fuel-energy balance (%) is: petroleum is approximately 80, natural gas is 3, hydraulic energy is 8, vegetation fuel is approximately 9. The production of electrical energy during the 1980 has amounted to 1570 million kilowatt-hours.

The major external commerce relations of Bolivia pass through the ports of the Mollendo city (Peru), and of the Arica and Antofagasta cities (Chile). Since the 1981, in association with the signing of the agreement among Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia, which is instituting the Urupabol group, there has opened for Bolivia the possibility of the access into the Atlantic ocean through the river network. The length of the railways is 3.8 thousand kilometres (1979), of the automotive roads is 38.5 thousand kilometres (1981). Within the mountainous regions, there have the great importance the animal-drawn transport, and the animal-carried pack transport.

Nature. At the west of the country, there are situated the Andes, and at the east, there is the vast plain, which is lowering itself at the north-east to the Amazon lowland. The significant part of the Andes occupies the high (approximately 4000 metres) plateau, namely, Puna, which is bounded at the west by the Western Cordillera (the altitude is up to 6520 metres), and at the east by the Central and Eastern Cordilleras. At the south-east of Puna, there is prominent the riftogenic depression with the remaining lakes (Poopo), and with the salt marshes (Koypasa, Uyuni, and others). The climate is tropical and sub-equatorial (the quantity of precipitation is 800-1600 millimetres per year); the temperature of July is from 3-7 degrees Celsius within Puna to 17-20 degrees Celsius at the east; the temperature of January is from 9-11 degrees Celsius (Puna) to 24-28 degrees Celsius (at the east). At the north of the country, there flow the large deep rivers: Beni, Mamore, and Guapore, which are forming the tributary of the Amazon river, namely, the Madeira river. The rivers of the Amazon drainage basin are navigable within the middle and lower reaches. The rivers, which are flowing down from the slopes of the Andes, are small, and turbulent. At the west of the country, there is situated the part of the highland navigable Lake Titicaca, the western half of which is located on the territory of Peru. Forests occupy more than 40% of the area of the country, and are abundant with the trees of valuable species (cinchona tree, palm trees, and others).

Geological structure. The Bolivian territory is situated within the limits of the Andean (Cordilleran) geosynclinal folded belt (western areas), and of the South American craton (eastern regions). The basement of the craton, which is emerging onto surface at the east, is formed by the Early pre-Cambrian gneisses, crystalline schists, and granodiorites, with which there are associated the deposits of the ores of iron and manganese. To the west, it submerges under the Phanerozoic cover, the thickness of which increases to the south up to 6 kilometres (the Chaco-Pampa plains). On the boundary of the cratonic and folded regions, there is situated the sub-Andean foredeep, which is formed by the moderately folded marine depositions of the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, and by the continental molasse (from the Carboniferous to the Neogene), with which there are associated the fields of petroleum and gas.

The Andean folded belt includes the anticlinoria of the Central Cordillera, which transitions itself at the north into the Cordillera Real, of the Eastern Cordillera, and the Cenozoic volcanic belt of the Western Cordillera. The Eastern and Central Cordilleras, and the Cordillera Real, are formed by the marine and sand-schistose strata of the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian, which are overlain within the certain places by the continental volcanogenic depositions of the Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous, and Paleogene. There are characteristic the small Early Mesozoic (Triassic - Jurassic) granitoid massifs, and the subvolcanic intrusions of the Paleogene and Neogene. Between the Central and Eastern Cordilleras, there is situated the Altiplano graben, which is filled by the thick stratum of the Cretaceous and Cenozoic continental clastic and volcanogenic formations, which are within the certain places underlain by the evaporites of the early Mesozoic, which are overlaying, apparently, the pre-Cambrian formations. Within the limits of the Central Cordillera, there are located the rich deposits of the ores of tin, tungsten, bismuth, and so on, and within the Altiplano, there are located the deposits of the ores of copper, lead, zinc, silver, and so on. The Western Cordillera is formed by the ignimbrites and rhyolite-dacitic covers of the Upper Miocene - Lower Pleistocene, on which there is situated the chain of the Quaternary andesitic and andesite-basaltic volcanoes. There is associated with the Cordillera Real the so-named Tin Ore belt of Bolivia, with significant reserves of the ores of tin, and with other useful minerals.

(Table # 1) The reserves of the major useful minerals (1980)
Useful mineral Reserves the content of the useful component, %
total proven and estimated
Petroleum, million tonnes - 311 -
Natural gas, billion cubic metres - 150 -
Iron ores, million tonnes 200 - 56
Tungsten ores (1), thousand tonnes 50 35 1-1.3
Lead ores (2), thousand tonnes 230 130 2.8
Zinc ores (2), thousand tonnes 900 750 17.2
Tin ores (2), thousand tonnes 1000 500 0.9
Antimony ores (2), thousand tonnes 367 - 7
(1) In terms of oxide, (2) In terms of metal

Useful minerals. The most important useful minerals within Bolivia are the ores of antimony, tungsten, and tin. There are available the deposits of petroleum, natural gas, iron ores, ores of copper, lead, zinc, and so on (see the Table # 1).

The reserves of petroleum and gas are concentrated within the Central - pre-Andean petroleum-and-gas-bearing basin, which is confined to the pre-Andean foredeep. By the 1981, there have been discovered 30 petroleum and 17 gas and gas condensate fields. There are petroleum-and-gas-bearing the sandy depositions of the Devonian and Permian-Carboniferous age, and at the individual fields, of the Paleogene. The depths of embedment of the productive horizons are from 800 to 4500 metres. The most characteristic types of reservoirs are: tabular vaulted, tectonically screened, less often lithologically limited, associated with lenticular embedment of sandstones. The largest fields are: with petroleum, Caranda, Camiri, Colpa, La Peña, Monteagudo; with gas and gas condensate, Rio Grande, Palmar, Tita.

Among the deposits of the iron ores, there is most promising the Mutun large deposit (the forecasted reserves are 40 billion tonnes) at the south-east of the country. It is associated with the Jacadigo Ordovician-Silurian series, within which there are available the packs of the thin interbedding of hematites and jaspers with the content of Fe of 43-45%, and with the eluvial-diluvial formations, where the content of Fe increases itself to 57%. At the foundation of the Jacadigo series, there are embedded the layers of the cryptomelane manganese ores, with the reserves of approximately 40 million tonnes.

The deposits of the lead-zinc ores are mostly small. The largest deposit, namely, Matilda, is situated at the north. Within the central part of Altiplano, there are known the small deposits of the copper ores of the telethermal genesis (Corocoro).

Bolivia holds the 3rd place in the reserves of the ores of tin among the industrially developed capitalistic and developing countries (14% of the reserves). The major deposits of the tin ores are concentrated within the so-named Tin Ore belt of Bolivia. At the north of the country, within the limits of the Tin Ore belt, there are developed the deposits of the pegmatite genesis, namely, Chacaltaya (Fabulosa), to the south, there are the plutonogenic hydrothermal deposits, which are associated with the Early Mesozoic intrusions (the Colquiri deposit, the total reserves in terms of metal are 90 thousand tonnes, the content of Sn is 1.4%), at the centre and at the south, there are the volcanogenic hydrothermal deposits, which localize themselves within the calcareous-alkaline magmatic rocks [the deposits are: Llallagua (Catavi), the total reserves in terms of metal are 220 thousand tonnes, the content of Sn is 0.3%; Huanuni, 130 thousand tonnes, 1.7%; Cerro Rico de Potosí, 308 thousand tonnes, 1.8%]. The tin mineralization is superimposed onto the polymetallic and silver mineralization, the age of mineralization is prevalently of the Miocene. There are known also the placer deposits of tin within the Avicaya region (from the Oruro city to the south-east).

The Chohlya, Kami, and Chicote deposits of tungsten associate with the Early Mesozoic granitoid intrusions at the north of the country, and are forming around them the internal zone, which is surrounded by the deposits of the ores of tin and antimony. There are known also the wolframite alluvial placers.

Bolivia holds the 1st place (21% of the reserves) among the industrially developed capitalistic and developing countries in the explored reserves of the ores of antimony. There are totaled within the country more than 300 deposits and manifestations of antimony, which are situated within the western and eastern parts of the Eastern Cordillera. The veinous hydrothermal deposits of the antimony ores localize themselves within the lutites of the Ordovician and Devonian, which are enriched with organic substances, namely, the Churkini (the total reserves are 36 thousand tonnes, the content of Sb is 8%), Caracota (35 thousand tonnes, 12%), and other deposits. The deposits of gold are of the placer type, are known within the basin of the Beni river; the richest placer within the South America is on the Tipuani river.

(Table # 2) The extraction of the major types of mineral raw materials
Mineral raw materials 1913 1917 1920 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980
Petroleum (with condensate), million tonnes - - - less 0.1 0.1 0.4 1.1 1.1
Natural gas (marketable), billion cubic metres - - - - - less 0.1 less 0.1 2.5
Tungsten ores (1), thousand tonnes 0.3 4.2 0.8 4.2 2.5 2.4 3.3 7
Gold ores (2), tonnes less 0.1 less 0.1 less 0.1 0.6 0.2 1.4 1 1.6
Copper ores (2), thousand tonnes 4 6 10 6.7 5 2 9 2
Tin ores (2), thousand tonnes 26.2 27.8 29.3 38.5 31.7 19.7 27.8 27.6
Lead ores (2), thousand tonnes 4 4 4 12 31 21 25 17
Silver ores (2), tonnes 86 - - 175 204 152 212 190
Antimony ores (2), thousand tonnes 0.1 12.9 1.6 12.3 8.8 5.4 11.8 15.5
Zinc ores (2), thousand tonnes 2 - - 12 20 4 46 50
(1) In terms of the oxides within concentrate, (2) In terms of the metal, which is being extracted

Mining industry. Historical outline. At the end of the 15th century, that is by the time of the discovery of America, the local population, knowing the method for the making of bronze, developed the Corocoro (La Paz department), and Turco (Oruro) deposits with the ores of copper, and the deposits of tin within the La Paz region. There was conducted the development of depositions with gold and silver. Gold was extracted within the Tacacoma, Yani, and Aicapata regions, silver was extracted within the Cerro Rico region (Potosí department). Together with silver, they extracted lead along the way. The extraction of useful minerals has got great development at the start of the 16th century (with the arrival of European conquerors into America). The major attention was dedicated to the extraction of gold and silver. There were the main source of gold numerous placers within the valleys of the Tipuani river and others, on the slopes of the Cordillera Real (the ores of other metals were extracted along the way in insignificant quantities). During the 30-ies of the 16th century, near the depositions of the silver ores, within the Cerro Rico region, on the Potosí mountain, there have been discovered new rich deposits of this useful mineral; during the 1546, there has been founded the Potosí city, which has become the important centre for the extraction of the ores of silver. During the 1545-1600, the Potosí deposits provided half of the worldwide extraction of silver. During the 1595, there have started to be operated the underground mines around the Oruro city. The new stage in the development of the mining industry has been started during the end of the 19th - start of the 20th centuries, when there has been started the development of the rich deposits with the ores of tin, which has become the main wealth of the country [Pulacayo (Huanchaca), Chorolque, Chocaya and Animas within the Potosí department, San Antonio within the La Paz department, and other deposits]. During the 1903, on the Salvador mountain, they have commissioned the "Llallagua" ("Catavi") underground mine, which was largest within the country, and since the 1924 (after the merger with other enterprises), is largest within the world. During the 1908, there has been started the extraction of the ores of tungsten at the "Kami" (Cochabamba department) and "Chohlya" (La Paz department) mines, during the 1911, there has been started the extraction of the ores of lead and partly of zinc, and during the 1914, there has been started the extraction of the ores of antimony and others. There were the most important sources of polymetals the Pulacayo and Animas deposits, of antimony the Porco and Churkini deposits. Since the 1929, after the discovery of the Camiri, Bermejo, and other deposits, at the south-east of the country, there has started to develop itself the petroleum and gas industry.

General characteristic. The share of Bolivia within the capitalistic world according to the cost of production of the mining industry is approximately 0.2%, but within the national economy, the mining industry is one of the major industries; it provides approximately 90% of the export earnings.

Within the structure of the mining industry, there holds the 1st place the extraction of the ores of tin - 41%, then the extraction of petroleum and gas - 28%, of antimony and tungsten - 15%, of polymetals - 10%, and of other useful minerals - 6% (Table # 2).

There plays the main role within this branch of industry the governmental sector, the share of which accounts for 75% of its entire produce, including almost all extraction of petroleum and gas, and 65% of the ore-mining raw materials. There work within the country the large governmental companies: "Yacinnentos petroliferos fiscales bolivianos" ("YPFB") - almost entire extraction and sales of petroleum and gas, "Corporación minera boliviana" ("Comibol") - 65% of the national extraction of the ores of the non-ferrous metals and 75% of tin, the "Empresa nacional de fundiciones" ("ENF") enterprise for the smelting of metals. The main regions for the extraction and processing of the ores of the non-ferrous metals are situated within the mountainous regions of the La Paz, Oruro, and Potosí departments, of petroleum are within the Cochabamba and Santa Cruz regions (see the map).

Of the produce from the mining industry, there are used within the internal market petroleum (1.5 million tonnes, 1978), partly natural gas and non-metallic useful minerals (building materials). The significant part of the natural gas, and all the ores of metals, are exported. Export of mineral raw materials during the end of the 70-ies provided approximately 600 million dollars per year, including 40% into the USA, 33% into the countries of the Western Europe, 12% into Africa. Import of mineral raw materials into Bolivia is practically absent, except for the small quantity of petroleum. In the future, the production of the produce from the mining industry will increase. Along with the tin ore branch of the industry, there will take the important place within the mining industry the iron ore branch of the industry.

Petroleum industry. The extraction of petroleum is conducted mostly within two regions. One of them has stretched itself as the narrow strip from the Santa Cruz city to the border with Argentina. The extraction of petroleum within it has been started during the end of the 20-ies. The largest field is Camiri. Another region, which has been commissioned during the start of the 60-ies, is situated from the Santa Cruz city to the east. 92% of the extraction of petroleum within Bolivia belongs to the "YPFB" company. The maximal level of extraction is 2.1 million tonnes (1973); because of the exhaustion of the fields, there has been extracted during the 1980 only 1.1 million tonnes. There are operated 18 petroleum and 5 gas condensate fields. Approximately 85% of petroleum is extracted from the Rio Grande, Monteagudo, Caranda, La Peña, Colpa, and Tita fields. There have been drilled approximately 300 operational drilled wells; during the 1980, the extraction was conducted from 284 drilled wells, of them 60% are gushing, and the remaining drilled wells are pumped. The average daily yields of the drilled wells are approximately 11 tonnes. Almost 25% of all petroleum is being extracted from the depth of less than 1.5 kilometres. The maximal depth of reservoirs is approximately 4.5 kilometres. The petroleum is light, low-sulfur (825-739 kilograms per cubic metre, S - 0.02%). During the end of the 70-ies, there operated within Bolivia 2 large petroleum processing plants of the "YPFB" company within the Cochabamba and Santa Cruz cities, and also 2 small plants within the Sucre and Camiri cities. The maximal level of the export has been recorded during the middle of the 70-ies. Because of the decrease of extraction, during the start of the 1979, the export of petroleum has been terminated. Petroleum and petroleum products are transported through pipelines, among them: trans-Andean pipeline from the fields of the Santa Cruz region to the Arica port (Chile); Camiri field - Sucre city - Cochabamba city - La Paz city; Santa Cruz city - Camiri field. The prospects for the growth of reserves, and for the increase of extraction of petroleum, are associated with prospecting and exploration within the Central - pre-Andean petroleum-and-gas-bearing basin, and possibly within the Madre de Dios and Altiplano petroleum-and-gas-bearing basins. Not having sufficient financial possibilities and technical means, the "YPFB" company has signed, based on the law of the 1972, the contracts for the prospecting-exploratory works with foreign companies.

The extraction of gas within Bolivia is conducted mostly along the way at the petroleum-gas fields. The major region of extraction is from the Santa Cruz city to the east. There are being developed 18 fields, but there provide 90% of gas the Rio Grande, Colpa, Tita, and Palmar fields. The gases are methanic, with significant content of homologues.

There is used within the country only approximately 3% of the gas, which is extracted, approximately 40% of its volume is exported, and the remaining part is pumped into the petroleum-bearing layers for the maintenance of pressure within the layer. The internal consumption of gas is restrained by the narrowness of the internal market. Since the 1972, after commissioning of the Santa Cruz - Yacuíba gas pipeline, there has been started the selling of gas into Argentina. The export during the 1980 has amounted to 2.1 billion cubic metres.

During the 1978, there has been signed the preliminary agreement with Brazil for the supply of 2.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year through the Santa Cruz - Corumbá gas pipeline, which is being designed (the length is 600 kilometres).

The tin extracting industry has started to develop itself during the end of the 19th century. The extraction of the ores has reached the highest level during the 1929 (47 thousand tonnes in terms of the metal, which is being extracted), and has decreased by the start of the 80-ies. Despite this fact, according to this indicator, Bolivia periodically takes the 2nd-4th place within the capitalistic world. At the end of the 70-ies, there worked within the country several hundred mines, of which 15 belong to the "Comibol" company (has been created during the 1952, after the nationalization of the property of the foreign companies). The main mines are "Llallagua" ("Catavi"), "Colquiri", "Caracoles", "Huanuni", "Potosí", and others, which are situated within the La Paz, Oruro, and Potosí regions. Besides the extraction of useful minerals at its own enterprises, the company purchases the produce from small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. The remaining part of the produce from these entrepreneurs is sold with the help of the "Banco minero de Bolivia" governmental bank, which provides them with the subsidy during the unfavourable market conditions.

Approximately 90% of the tin ores is extracted by the underground method from the sulfidic veinous deposits (the depth of development is up to 1000 metres), the remaining part is extracted from placers and old tailings of beneficiation within dumps. The cost of produce is one of the highest within the capitalistic world (14.5 thousand dollars per 1 tonne, 1979). This fact is explained by the increase of the depth within the underground mines, by the decrease of the thickness of the veins, and also of the content of tin within the ore (from 3 to 0.8% on average), by the large losses of metal during the beneficiation of the ores (up to 50%), by the difficulty of the climatic conditions, by the bad state of the roads, and so on.

Relatively bad technical equipping of many underground mines, low rates of growth for the prices for tin, during the increase of expenditures for production, decrease the profitability of mines. There is most mechanized the Llallagua underground mine, which is the largest mine within the country.

The processing of the ores is performed, as a rule, at the place of their extraction. There belongs to the "Comibol" company the beneficiation plant within the La Pulka city (Potosí department), and within other regions of the country. All produce is exported in the form of tin (more than 80% of produce) and concentrates. The value of the export of tin during the 1980 was estimated at 390 million dollars. The prospects for the development of this branch of industry are associated with the mastering of the large deposits with poor ores (opencast method of development), with the processing of the dumps with the tailings from beneficiation.

Antimony-extracting industry. The maximum of the extraction has been recorded during the 1943 (18 thousand tonnes); during the 1980, because of the decrease of demand within the worldwide market, it has decreased. During the start of the 80-ies, Bolivia held the 1st place in the production of antimony within the capitalistic world, competing with the Republic of South Africa. There work within the country more than 200 mines (within the region of the La Paz, Oruro, and Potosí cities). The largest mines are "Caracota", "Tupiza", "Churkini", and others. There provides approximately 50% of the produce the "Empresa minera unificada S. A." private company. There are being developed mainly rich ores, which are containing at least 10% of antimony. There is extracted mostly antimonite, prevalently by the manual ore sorting. There are partially beneficiated franckeite ores at the plant within the Oruro city (has been built during the 1962). All the produce from this branch of industry is exported into the USA (approximately 80%), Japan, and the countries of the Western Europe. More than 9 thousand tonnes of concentrates with the content of antimony of 63% are processed at the plant within the Vinto city (has been commissioned during the 1975; there are issued 4.3 thousand tonnes of metal, 1 thousand tonnes of oxide, and 1 thousand tonnes of alloys), the remaining concentrates are exported in the non-processed form.

Extraction of other useful minerals. There has the important significance within the country the extraction of the ores of tungsten (Chohlya, Chicote, Kami, and other deposits), of polymetals (Matilda, Huari Huari, and other deposits), of silver (Chocaya, Pulacayo, and other deposits), and of other useful minerals. There belongs the major role within their production to the "Comibol" company, the share of which accounts for almost all of the national extraction of the ores of copper and bismuth, for 80-85% of silver and cadmium, for 65-70% of lead and zinc, for 35-40% of tungsten and gold. There provide the remaining part of the metal-containing ores the medium-sized and small companies.

Geological service. Scientific institutions. Training of the cadres. Publishing. Geological and mining works within Bolivia are conducted by the Ministry for the ore-mining and metallurgical industry (there belongs to its structure the geological service of Bolivia, namely, "Geobol"), and by the Ministry for the energetic industry and petroleum industry.

Scientific works are conducted by the Geophysical institute (gravimetric, seismologic, and geomagnetic researches), by the Technological institute (the researches of the petroleum fields and of the Devonian fauna), by the Regional institute of geology at the University within the La Paz city, by the Association of engineers and geologists of the "YPFB" petroleum company within the La Paz city (has been founded during the 1959), by the Society of geologists within the La Paz city (has been founded during the 1961), and so on.

The training of the cadres for the mining industry is performed at the universities of the Cochabamba (has been founded during the 1832), La Paz (1830), Tarija (1946), and other cities.