LatAm governments to foster private investment, mining regulations

By Martim Facada
Published: Saturday, 26 August 2017

Investment in Latin American mining: regulations needed in the region, political risks remain

Investment in some Latin American countries remains taboo, delegates attending LATAM Mining Cumbre heard in July, due to past policies of expropriation by some left-wing governments, with Argentina and Venezuela being highlighted by investors as some of the most worrying cases.

The Santiago conference kicked off with an opening address from the  Chilean Minister of Mining, Aurora Williams, followed by government representatives from other Latin American countries including Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Mexico.

Gold and copper were the main metals discussed at the conference, as both private and public sectors expressed concerns about the Latin American mining industry.

Major topics discussed at the conference included the formalisation of the Latin American mining industry, which aims to legalise illegal mines and create new policies to improve the mining sector and attract private investors.

Juan Biset the Argentinian Sub-Secretary of Mining, explained that Argentina is ready to make changes, with the government led by Mauricio Macri aiming "to build trust in their country" and follow the example of the other countries in Latin America.

"We want to recover and attract more private investment. We want to avoid committing the same mistakes and learn from the countries which have been enjoying investments, such as Chile and Peru, and understand how to do the same," Biset said. 

Ricardo Labo, Peru’s Vice Minister of Mines, told delegates that Peru wants to do even better with its mining objectives for 2021. 

"We aim at increasing Peruvian copper production by 30% by 2021 and tackling illegal and informal mines inside the country. Today 25% of total gold production in Peru is produced by illegal or informal mines," Labo said. 

"These objectives aim at increasing security inside mines, legalising workers and making these illegal mines pay taxes," he added. 

Other state delegates from Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico reaffirmed these targets. 

The presentation of mining projects that the governments in attendance aim to privatise was also at the centre of discussions, displaying an investment-friendly environment throughout the conference.

New mining policies, the development of new deposits, and know-how on both mineral extraction and geological knowledge about existing and new mining areas were also mentioned by private and public participants.

Pact between South Africa and Chile

One of the highlights of the conference was the signing of a cooperation in mining memorandum between the South African and Chilean Governments. South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane and his Chilean counterpart, Aurora Williams, signed the cooperation agreement stating that the governments would cooperate for the development of both their mining industries. 

Included in the memorandum were agreements to share knowledge in geology, experiences in policy formulation and environmental regulations including best practices, cooperation in mineral development and experiences in underground mining and mineral processing. 

LATAM Mining Cumbre ended with a panel discussion about lithium supply and demand forecasts over the next 10 years. Panel participants included representatives from SQM, Lithium Americas and Arete Capital.  

The panel said that a shortage would be possible within the next five years and that the success of traditional and new producers to bring more material into the market was key. 

Panel participants agreed that over the next decade, supply was forecast to likely meet demand.