Pan American Silver’s only operation in Bolivia, the San Vicente mine, is located in the Andean High Plateau, in the department of Potosi, at an elevation of approximately 4,400 meters above sea level. The mine is in a remote area, where the land is relatively barren and rugged, and where semi-arid climatic conditions prevail most of the year.
The mine is located near the Community of San Vicente, which is composed by 11 communities affiliated with the Organization of Original Communities of San Vicente. These communities are located in the municipalities of Atocha, Tupiza, Colcha K and San Pablo de Lipez.
Pan American is committed to the development of the Community of San Vicente, which we view as our strategic partner. Our Company also maintains close relationships with local authorities and other civic organizations and works with them to develop entrepreneurial skills within the communities and to contribute to their self-sustainability.
To achieve this, Pan American Silver Bolivia has created the Yanapanakuy Program. “Yanapanakuy” is a word in the native Quechua language, which means “to help each other” or “to cooperate mutually”. The purpose of the Program is to help local communities solve their most immediate needs by participating in initiatives such as:
The community of San Vicente celebrated the inauguration of a completely refurbished, more modern hospital during the second quarter of 2011. The new hospital has all the necessary space and equipment needed to treat the Company’s workers and their families. In addition to financing the upgrades, Pan American Silver provides the resources to hire medical practitioners and administrative staff to run the medical centre and all the medicines prescribed and other necessary supplies.
In 2008, Pan American completed the expansion of the “Julio Urquieta” school in the community of San Vicente. The project included the construction of a second floor with three new classrooms and a new, fully-equipped, physics and chemistry laboratory. Every year since Pan American got involved in the project, the school’s curriculum has been expanded with the addition of a new grade; the result was a complete, high school program by 2009.
Pan American also contributes to the education of local children on an on-going basis by providing materials to students of 9 different communities each year. In addition, Pan American supports local teachers by distributing teaching supplies and other materials.
The Company worked with the Potosi Electrical Service to complete the Rural Lipez II power line, which provides electricity to 60 families in San Vicente Pueblo Nuevo and other nearby rural communities. The project included erecting power poles, laying transmission cables, connecting the power to the homes and installing electricity reading devices for each house.
A key infrastructure project in San Vicente is the maintenance of the San Vicente-Tupiza road, which is a major access road for the workers of San Vicente and the Chilcobija mill, as well as for members of nearby communities. The road is also transited by tourists on the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid route, who visit the namesake museum, one of the businesses operated by the San Vicente Promotion Committee.
Other recent improvements to the San Vicente community infrastructure include a new coliseum with capacity for 3,000 people a new and the improved hospital.
One of Pan American’s most important community development initiatives is the San Vicente Promotion Committee (“Junta de Fomento San Vicente”). The Junta is a project entirely owned by San Vicente’s workers and financed through their contributions, with matching financial backing by Pan American Silver Bolivia. The Junta’s mission is to foster the development of San Vicente’s workers, their families and the community as a whole, to promote alternative sources of employment and income, to develop entrepreneurial skills in the community and to strengthen the relationship between Pan American and the community of San Vicente.
The Junta has developed several successful businesses, including a mini market, a cable TV service, a transportation service for the inhabitants of San Vicente and the surrounding communities, and the Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid Museum, which promotes a tourism route to the town of San Vicente, where the two outlaws are believed to have been killed after robbing the payroll from a silver mine in the area.
Another important initiative is the agricultural and livestock breeding project. The purpose of the program is to increase the forage production for local llama and guanaco herds and to improve the overall health of the animals and their breeding techniques. Products derived from this project (wool, leather and meat), are sold to the benefit of over 390 families dedicated to this activity.