First mover New Pacific, other juniors make headway in once off-limits Bolivia

Drilling at Carangas project in Bolivia. Image from New Pacific Metals.

Once considered a pariah, Bolivia is quickly gaining a reputation as an exciting jurisdiction for mineral exploration.

First in was New Pacific Metals (TSXV: NUAG) which acquired the Silver Sand project in 2017 and signed a first-of-its-kind mining production contract with state mining firm Comibol for the surrounding  56-sq.-km land package. The company is now advancing the project in central Bolivia’s silver-tin belt to production and exploring several promising satellite targets.

But since New Pacific Metals pushed the door open five years ago, half a dozen more listed companies have entered Bolivia, attracted by its huge and largely untapped geological potential.

Backed by Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) chairman Peter Marrone, among others, Eloro Resources (TSXV: ELO) is exploring the Iska Iska polymetallic deposit, close to Pan American Silver’s (TSX: PAAS; NASDAQ: PAAS) San Vicente mine. Silver Elephant (TSX: ELEF) is also exploring the Pulacayo project, 139 km north of San Vicente.

Related: Lithium mining: ‘A new Bolivia’, says EnergyX CEO

As multinationals pull out of the country, juniors are seeing opportunities in operating assets which could then provide a platform for exploration.

Last March, Santacruz Mining (TSXV: SCZ) completed its acquisition of three mines from Glencore (LSE: GLEN), which announced plans to sell the mines after beginning arbitration proceedings in 2019 against Bolivia over the 2007 nationalization of the Vinto smelter). and is preparing to explore its largely ignored claims portfolio. Andean Precious Metals (TSXV: APM) is exploring a couple of sites after buying the San Bartolome silver mine in 2017 from Coeur Mining (NYSE: CDE), which pivoted to a focus on North America.

More juniors are jostling to come in.