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Thursday, Jul 25, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


Copper miners flock to Argentina’s Mendoza province as it gets more mining friendly

Authorities have identified a large area in the Andes Mountains where they plan to expedite environmental permitting

Copper miners flock to Argentina's Mendoza province as nation becomes more mining friendly
Mendoza is world-renowned for its vineyards and wineries. Photo credit: Vectors South

Argentine authorities are planning to open a large section of land in the Andes Mountains to copper miners through expedited environmental permitting. Deposits were identified in this area of the Mendoza province several years ago, but they have historically been off limits for mineral extraction.

Companies like First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX: FM), Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG) and Canadian junior miners have shown an interest in their development. That is according to a representative from the provincial mining agency Impulsa Mendoza, who discussed the development in an interview with Bloomberg last week.

“We have more than 300 mining properties in limbo because of environmental hurdles,” Emilio Guinazu, head of the agency, said. “That’s what we’re tackling with this measure, so that miners will cement their desire to get to work in Mendoza,” he added with regard to the blanket mining authorization expected to be implemented by September.

Copper miners will be able to extract the conductive metal from the ground without using any chemicals prohibited by Mendoza law. The use of substances like cyanide and sulfuric acid in mining processes is strictly banned.

The news follows the Senate of the Province of Mendoza approving a series of mining reforms in late April. They have given provincial authorities increased influence and powers over the region.

Relaxed regulations in the industry, largely inspired by Javier Milei’s leadership, could eventually transform Argentina into a top copper supplier like its neighbour Chile. Government forecasts have shown that the nation could produce up to 793,000 tonnes per annum by 2030. Following closure of the country’s last producing mine in 2018, Argentina currently doesn’t pull any significant quantities of copper from its soil.

However, the nation does have one early-stage copper operation that has pulled attention from investors: the Los Azules project in the San Juan province. Some analysts have predicted that global demand for the commodity will increase five-fold in the coming years as the electric vehicle market grows. Argentina has about 65 million tonnes of copper reserves, according to a government report from 2022.

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Mendoza estimated to hold 12 lithium deposits

The head of the Mendoza Mining Directorate says the region has vast resources of another commodity that the country has been producing an increasing amount of.

“An investor has presented a study that points out the existence of 12 lithium deposits in Mendoza,” Jerónimo Shantal, the province’s mining director and professor of mining law at Champagnat University, said in an interview with local media. “According to this study there is lithium in San Rafael and Malargüe [Mendoza cities].”

Argentina’s Catamarca, Jujuy and Salta provinces hold significant quantities of the battery metal too and have been attracting interest from multiple investors for their rich lithium brine resources.

Early-stage developers like Lithium South Development Corporation (TSX-V: LIS) (OTCQB: LISMF) (Frankfurt: OGPQ) and Argentina Lithium & Energy Corp. (TSX-V: LIT) have set up operations in Salta while seasoned investors like José Luis Manzano and various nations have been buying up lithium and copper assets in Jujuy and Catamarca.


Lithium South Development Corporation is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage 


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