Better mining?

Miners increasingly view Argentina as more attractive than Chile.

Although Argentina has been going through what has already become a structural crisis for a long time, its mining potential remains important. Since the enactment of the Mining Investments Law in 1992, it has positioned itself as a very interesting destination for the international mining investor.

In this context, it is not surprising that large mining groups, such as Grupo Lundin, have been investing in Argentina for years. Recently, there has been notable progress at the Josemaría Project, in the Province of San Juan, which has gold, copper and silver deposits. A USD 3 billion investment is planned for the construction phase of the mine, one of the largest anticipated investments in the sector for the next few years.

The CEO of a mining company in Argentina commented, “Lundin has been in Argentina for many years, they know the risks and the potential. Mining investors have a lower aversion to risk, they are used to investing in countries where institutional or economic quality may not be desirable. They counter this with projects that, if successful, give very good margins. Despite Argentina’s reputation, it has promoted mining since the 1990’s through different governments and various changes to the law, they know how important in the sector is.”

“Despite Argentina’s reputation, it has promoted mining since the 1990’s through different governments and various changes to the law, they know how important in the sector is.”

CEO, mining company, active in Argentina

The national government openly supports mining activity, and is currently finalising a Mining Strategic Plan, with the participation of more than 100 organisations from the mining industry, academia, environmental activities etc. The plan aims to comprehensively cover all the problems that affect the sector, from the institutional, environmental, and economic levels.

The mining CEO saw the new plan as a positive change, “Since the middle of last year, the Ministry of Mining has been developing its Strategic Plan for Mining Development, which aims to set the rules of the game for the next 30 years, with predictability and legal security. What is new is that the Plan is being prepared with the participation of more than 100 industry stakeholders.”

“The Ministry of Mining has been developing its Strategic Plan for Mining Development, which aims to set the rules of the game for the next 30 years, with predictability and legal security.”

CEO, mining company, active in Argentina

Although it has been growing, mining production faces very relevant challenges due to its unorthodox political outlook and its economic volatility. Furthermore, radical environmental groups have stopped several important projects and local communities have significant influence and are often short-changed. All this resulted, in some cases, in provincial laws that restrict mining activity such as Mendoza and Chubut.

Finally, beyond the recurring institutional and economic problems, Argentina is behind in terms of investment in infrastructure, which for mining is so important. I am referring to investment in road infrastructure, rail, fibre optics, port infrastructure, etc., which must be planned and carried out at the national level, but with the current situation derived from the pandemic, it will not be easy.

Despite the challenges, the mining CEO was optimistic, “The potential in Argentina is enormous, with better institutional quality and macroeconomics it could be one of the main producers worldwide, in gold, silver, lithium and potassium. In copper, projects such as Navidad, Josemaria, Pachón, Altar, Los Azules and Taca Taca, if fully developed, could make Argentina a bigger producer than Chile.”

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