Bolivia's largest mine suspends operations again due to pandemic

LA PAZ, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Bolivia’s San Cristóbal mine, a huge deposit of zinc, lead and silver, has suspended operations for a second time due to the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Monday, as COVID-19 infections continued to spread in the landlocked South American nation.

The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Sumitomo Corp, had previously suspended operations in March, before resuming production in May.

San Cristóbal SA, Bolivia’s largest mine, said it had temporarily suspended operations due to a COVID-19 outbreak at its camp, located in the department of Potosí.

“Minera San Cristóbal determined to prioritize life and redesign the work system to restart operations in safe conditions without putting at risk any of the more than 1,400 workers, contractor firms and inhabitants of the Colcha K municipality (in Potosi),” it said in a statement.

The company added it had carried out 8,093 medical checks on its workers and contractors, which allowed it to identify 168 suspected cases, of which 41 have been confirmed.

Bolivia has just over 109,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and around 4,500 deaths to date. (Reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz Writing by Adam Jourdan Editing by Matthew Lewis)