Focus, Argentina. Land of opportunities. Mining Journal.
In this article, Paola Rojas, Vice president, Corporate Development of Rojas & Asociados, was interviewed about Argentinean mining. See below an excerpt of the article or download the full story bellow.
Land of opportunities
Investment could help the country’s mineral sector realise its potential.
ARGENTINA is Latin America’s third-largest economy and potentially home to vast undiscovered mineral deposits to match its neighbour and mining giant, Chile, with which it shares the Andean mountain range.
This is one of the world’s great mineral provinces, containing mining deposits of gold, silver, zinc, copper, oil, manganese, lithium and uranium. Extending over 4,500km along the western margin of the continent, more than 3,500km of the Andes lies within the country’s borders.
“Argentina has a wonderful opportunity for mining,” Rob McEwen, chief executive (CEO) of McEwen Mining Inc, tells Mining Journal.
The country has a national mining plan that includes bold targets through to 2029. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, elected to a second term in October 2011, has labelled this “the decade of mining” as investment, production and exports have soared.
Since 2002 investment has ballooned 1,948% to a record US$2.57 billion in 2011, while direct employment in mining has grown by 451% to 517,000 people.
At the beginning of the decade Argentina had just 18 exploration and mining projects. There are now 614, according to Secretary of Mines data, with investment in exploration for gold, copper, silver, zinc, lithium, potash, uranium, precious stones and coal.
Argentina’s mining secretary, Jorge Mayoral, wants it to become one of the world’s top mineral producers. The country has already gone some way to meeting this goal in gold and silver, where it ranks 10th, according to calculations based on Bloomberg data. It is the third-largest producer of lithium, has vast uranium deposits and is set to produce 2.4Mt of potash in 2012.
“Argentina could become a bigger producer of mineral wealth, but this will depend on accessibility to deposits; importation and exportation laws that allow for mining development; the ability to repatriate investments;, tax and royalty levels; and the stability of laws regarding mining,” Silver Standard Resources Inc’s head of institutional relations in Argentina, Dr Favio Casarin, tells Mining Journal.
Around 160 companies own mining prospects, and of those 80 are actively exploring. The sector has a cross section of larger firms such as Swiss-based Xstrata plc and top gold producer Barrick Gold Corp, along with medium-sized firms such as Pan American Silver Corp and juniors such as Mariana Resources Ltd, Troy Resources Ltd and Mirasol Resources Ltd.
Investor appetite seems to be quite good, according to Doug Bright, Argentina Mining Ltd’s director.
He added: “Some investors are moving away from investment in Australia, whose sovereign risk is seen as having increased due to recent policy changes by the federal government. South America is known, especially by geologically savvy investors, as ‘elephant country’ in terms of its potential for large deposits because of its geological environment.”
About 15 international mining projects are expected to begin operating in the short term, with a total investment of more than AP150 billion (US$32.7 billion). Companies from 30 countries are investing in Argentina with Canada leading the field followed by Australia, the US and Chile, along with a number of Argentine firms. The pace of investment has been growing since the 1990s and as Paola Rojas, vice president, corporate development at Argentine mining consultants Rojas & Asociados, tells Mining Journal, despite a blip in 2008/09 with the economic crisis, the country has recovered a lot faster than expected and has continued to expand.
Some 600 projects and prospects have been identified by the government. But GEMERA (Grupo de Empresas Exploradoras de la Republica Argentina) puts this figure closer to 420 – of which 25 are at an advanced exploration stage, Ms Rojas said.
Currently 14 mines are in production and three more are under construction – Barrick’s Pascua-Lama, …
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