Despite the electoral uncertainty and the economic crisis and the fact that the mining industry is opting for the “wait and see”, this year, the sector foresees investments of some US $ 250 million. It is simply attributed to the fact that expectations of a substantial improvement in the level of activity are more in the medium term.
“Exports now remain at the same level (US $ 3,855 million in 2018) but the expectation is that they can grow over the next two years,” explains Marcelo Alvarez, head of the Chamber of Mining Entrepreneurs (CAEM) ).
It happens that several of the projects that are now underway, are in the decline of their production or stopped, as well as others are with great potential. Therefore, the highest expectations are centered on new ventures such as Cerro Moro, in Santa Cruz, which is already in production; the Lindero project, in Salta, which enters that stage next year and also the Chinchillas mine, in Jujuy, operated by the company Golden Arrow.
“These projects, together with others that are feasible, are what make us think that in two or three years, we will be exporting more,” says the businessman, also a director of the Canadian mining company Barrick Gold.
The entrepreneur made these considerations, within the framework of the exhibition Arminera 2019 in Costa Salguero and that brings together the main actors of extractive activity in the country.
The gray conjuncture for the sector was also recognized by the Minister of Production Dante Sica during the opening of the Fair. “We are facing a complicated moment but we are working to overcome it,” said the official. He also recalled that “last year, despite the crisis, mining was one of the few sectors that did not fall,” he said.
“Argentina has an enormous possibility of growth through mining and we know that to approach this potential we need to coordinate efforts and maintain public policies over time,” the minister said.
Sica also stressed that “investments increased by 92% compared to 2015, allowing the advancement of our portfolio of projects and the incorporation of new resources and reserves.” According to his calculations, investments in mining exploration will account for about US $. S 250 million in 2019. “
Much of that amount will be borne by Canadian mining company Barrick Gold for its Veladero mine in San Juan. “The idea is to take it from the current 6 years of activity that are left to more than 10 years,” says Alvarez. This will allow an extraction of 500 thousand ounces of gold per year.
In addition, from the CAEM, they think that in the medium term, the vitality of exports could be compensated with the results of lithium, which has become – in recent years – the star of the minerals extracted in the country.
“The current 28 thousand tons of lithium that are concentrated in Jujuy, Catamarca and Salta, will become 50 thousand tons in the next two years,” said Alvarez. Among the projects aimed at extracting this mineral, which requires lower investment costs, include Fénix Mine, Olaroz, Salar del Rincón, Cauchari-Olaroz, Pozuelos, Sal de Vida, Sal de los Angeles, Tres Quebradas, Salar Cauchari, Salar Centenario , Mice, Mariana (I, II and III), Gallego Project and Antofalla.
According to official data, Argentina ranks as the third largest producer of lithium, with 13%. The first is Australia (44%), the second Chile (33%) and the fourth China (6%).
The exhibition of Costa Salguero brought together different links linked to mining activity. In addition to the large extractive companies, the stands were taken over by SME suppliers of inputs and commercial delegations from different countries, in the search for synergies and new businesses.
One of them, for example, is Peru, where mining weighs heavily in the economy of that country (it is 70% of total exports). Silvia Seperack, director of the Commercial Office of Peru in Argentina, says that she is accompanying six Peruvian companies that provide goods and services that are looking for a distributor in the local market.
“It is the first time we participate in the Fair, it seems important because Argentina is opening up to the world, we only hope that the model will be maintained and that the market will not be closed,” he said from his stand painted red.