With a highly mobile local geology, very abrupt topography and harsh weather, including a very intense rain season, the city of La Paz, Bolivia, is no stranger to natural disasters. Recent years have seen catastrophic floods, hailstorms and landslides.
Additionally, the city is located in a seismic ‘subduction’ zone with potential for earthquakes. Therefore a preliminary diagnosis of the city’s earthquake risk preparedness was commissioned in 2016 by the Municipality of La Paz, with funding from the European Commission DIPECHO programme. This led to a range of activity, including a call for revision of the Bolivian rebar standard, coordinated by the Bolivian Institute for Standardisation and Quality. ArcelorMittal Brazil became the first steel company to develop and supply the Bolivian market with a new earthquake-resistant product, not just for the capital but for the entire country. To introduce this important product to the market, the company promoted a series of technical seminars in Bolivia’s principal cities, in partnership with Bolivian seismology experts.
ArcelorMittal is now the market leader for rebar in Bolivia and takes part in all major ongoing construction in the country. This covers a wide range of projects, including the construction of the Monte Punku hydroelectric power plant in the Cochabamba region, managed by the Chinese company Sinohydro; The Avenida Mall in Santa Cruz de la Sierra; the construction of the Cochabamba metropolitan train system; various hi-rise buildings in the main Bolivian cities Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cochabamba and La Paz; and most recently, participation in Bolivia's main real estate development, the construction of the new city of Santa Cruz, planned for 300,000 people.