LA PAZ, Sept 18 Rival miners from Bolivia's No.
2 tin mine, Colquiri, hurled sticks of dynamite and rocks at
each other in the city of La Paz on Tuesday, injuring at least
seven people in an hour-long street battle.
Leftist President Evo Morales had seized control of the mine
in June in a bid to end a conflict between unionized workers and
The government took over operations at Colquiri after miners
fought for weeks over control of the site, located about 200 km
(125 miles) south of La Paz. The state takeover drew an angry
response from the mine's former owner, global commodities trader
Miners remain at odds over who has the right to exploit the
richest part of the mine's resources.
"Dialogue must be imposed, the government is summoning both
sides because no agreement can be reached until there's
pacification," Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez told a news
conference, adding six miners and one passerby were hurt in
Reuters witnesses said thousands of independent miners
entered La Paz around midday and threw dynamite at several dozen
unionized miners who were standing guard outside the Miners'
Federation labor organization.
The unionized workers said they will demand that Morales
expel the independent cooperative miners from Colquiri, where
they were allowed to continue mining one section of the site
under June's government-brokered accord.
Production losses at the mine have topped $5 million since
the dispute reignited at the beginning of the month.
Colquiri should produce about 3,000 tonnes of tin
concentrates this year, representing about 15 percent of
estimated national output of some 21,000 tonnes. Most of the
rest of Bolivia's tin is produced at the state-run Huanuni mine.
Mining is Bolivia's second-biggest foreign currency earner
after natural gas. Its most important metals export is silver,
followed by zinc and tin.