Glencore tries to enforce its rights in Bolivia

President Evo Morales on a presidential poster, with a slogan that says “building the new Bolivia”

Bolivia has nationalized three Glencore operations in nine years. Bloomberg reports Glencore has announced: “after almost nine years of negotiations without receiving any compensation for the nationalization of three of its operations, Glencore had no other option but to initiate arbitration proceedings to enforce its rights under international law.”

From a total of four operations in Bolivia, Glencore is now left with just one. Since President Evo Morales took power in 2006, his government has seized three Glencore operations:

2007: The Bolivian government nationalized Glencore’s Vinto tin smelter.

2012: The Bolivian government revoked Glencore’s license and handed the Colquiri zinc and lead mine to state mining company Comibol. At this point, Glencore suspended any new investment in Bolivia.

2012: The Bolivian government seized Glencore’s antimony operation.

The Swiss based mining and trading giant states that it has paid royalties, taxes and fees of $380 million to Bolivia, and also has invested $290 million in the Bolivian mining industry. Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera has a different view, and in 2012 told the state-run Radio Patria Nueva that the Bolivian government is not “going to hand our country to foreigners who destroyed Bolivia and left it stagnating for 20 years.”

Glencore is left with the Sinchi Wayra zinc and tin mine in Bolivia.

The outcome of this legal endeavour may have wide-spread implications, as Glencore is not the only company that has been impacted. President Evo Morales has nationalized a string of assets in the energy and mining industries.