Bolivia ranks second among world producers of tin and antimony, and first in bismuth production. Mineral exports in 1975 were valued at $314.2 million, nearly 60 percent of the value of all exports, and petroleum product exports totalled nearly $157 million, or 30 percent of the total. Tin accounted for 58 percent of the total value of metallic mineral exports. The central government derived about 19 percent of its total tax revenues in 1975 from the mining sector.
The mining sector consists of the large, medium, and small mining subsectors, a classification established by the government. Individual operations are referred to as large, medium, or small depending upon the subsector into which they are classified. All large mining enterprises are owned and operated by a government corporation, COMIBOL; the medium and small operations are privately owned. COMIBOL's exports in 1975 were valued at $171.8 million or 70 percent of the total mineral exports; the medium mines accounted for $55.5 million or 23 percent, and the small mines for $17.5 million or 7 percent of the total.
The combination of high operating costs, low productivity, inadequate ore reserves, and insufficient risk capital for exploration and development has led to the realization that there is an urgent need to improve the situation for mining in Bolivia. Proposals are being studied to revise the tax code, a program is underway to evaluate selected mineral deposits for possible exploration and development, and programs are under consideration to encourage minerals exploration.
A minerals exploration plan is proposed which would offer technical and financial aid to various segments in the minerals field. A program, estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million annually, and to be operated by a new agency in the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy, is outlined.
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Implementation plan for Bolivian Mineral Exploration Fund