Strike grips Bolivia’s San Cristobal silver mine

LA PAZ, March 28 (Reuters) – A four-day-old strike has paralyzed Bolivia’s San Cristobal mine, which produces silver, zinc and lead and accounts for about half the country’s mining exports, the government said on Monday.

San Cristobal is the world’s third-largest producer of silver and the sixth-largest producer of zinc, according to Japan’s Sumitomo Corp (8053.T: Quote), which fully owns the mine. It produced some 620,000 kilograms of fine silver in 2009, official data shows.

Government Mining Director Freddy Beltran told Reuters the strike started on Friday after days of threats by miners, who are calling for improved working conditions and the firing of several officials.

“Today is the fourth day that the mine’s been halted, bearing in mind that it keeps operating over the weekend,” he said.

A company statement expressed concern about operations at the remote Andean site and for staff safety, without giving further details.

Labor disputes are common in Bolivia, a significant global producer of zinc, silver, tin and lead.

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