South Korea and Bolivia have agreed to jointly develop a copper mine in the Andean highlands estimated to have at least 15 million tons of the natural resource, according to a government release from La Paz and Seoul.
Officials from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said that the deal was made in talks between Vice Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy Lee Jae-hoon and Bolivian Minister of Mining and Metals Luis Alberto Echazu in Seoul. Located some 50 kilometers southwest of La Paz, the Corocoro mine would be developed jointly by the Korea Resources Corporation (KORES), South Korea's state-run resources development firm, and its Bolivian counterpart COMIBOL. ''KORES and COMIBOL signed the contract, under which a local consortium will be set up early next year to form a joint development company,'' a ministry spokesman said. ''We will also establish a refinery to process copper ore.'' He added that the project would be a 50-50 joint venture with about 200 million US dollars worth of joint investment. South Korea would acquire all products from the mine, which could have up to 100 million tons of natural resources. South Korea boasts the world's second-largest copper refining facilities, which can process about 550,000 tons of the mineral and consumed some 1.4 million tons of copper per year. In 2007, the country invested about 639 million US dollars in mineral resources development projects in foreign counties, up 343% from 186 million in 2006, according to the South Korean ministry.