Mining in Argentina – June showed a new Mining Federal Agreement, Veladero’s comeback and a continuous advance in lithium
The first half of 2017 had several positive topics for the mining industry. In terms of commodities prices, the ounce of gold escaped from the under US$1200 level, consolidating its position in the US$1.220-1.230 range. In the same trend, the ounce of silver recovered during the first quarter, advancing up to US$19/oz. Related to metals that trade in the LME –London Metal Exchange- copper has recovered, with an average showing that the “red metal” is closer to the US$3 per pound than US$2,50 per pound. This data represents a great opportunity for mining operators to advance their projects in Argentina. From the extreme north up to the Patagonia Region, Argentina has a strong geological potential: gold, copper, and copper-gold projects can transform this country in one of the most relevant metalliferous producers worldwide. This represents a great opportunity for all stakeholders: mining operators, goods and services suppliers, communities, federal and provincial authorities.
Lithium mining is showing the trend for the Argentine mining industry. A great corporate activity has been shown during the last years: junior and medium companies publish strong results coming from their exploration activities in Catamarca, Salta and Jujuy provinces. The near future promises more advance in this path: demand is surpassing supply with its impact in the price of lithium, with carbonate prices reaching records in the spot market.
On 13th June, President Mauricio Macri and twenty governors signed the Mining Federal Agreement, an important tool created to guarantee a unique legal framework among all jurisdictions. This gives predictability to foreign investors. After signing, President Mauricio Macri referred to mining as “a resource that would put Argentina within the six most important countries in the world”.
Barrick’s Veladero mine returned to operation after the company built a new pumping system in the leach valley. State authorities supervised pneumatic and hydraulic tests among other changes. Barrick Gold and Shandong Gold completed the formation of Joint Venture at Veladero Mine as a first step, followed by studies to evaluate a potential underground development in Lama, and prospecting activities in El Indio belt.