Metals mining and exploration projects have ‘stagnated’ in Latin America of late, yet there exists great potential for this industry and a strong sense of optimism prevails.

Furthermore, new mining laws recently approved in Ecuador could provide the platform for many new projects in the country and boost production in the wider Latin America region itself.

Those are the sentiments of Juan Carlos Guajardo, a Copper and Mining Industry insider and representing B-CESCO at the gasworld South & Central America Conference 2009.

Presenting the topic Future Developments in the Metals & Mining Industry, Guajardo told gasworld delegates of the ‘special situation’ in Chile and described how mining and production has grown by many thousands of tonnes in recent years.

He explained yesterday, “In terms of Latin America, we have 57% of the global market. The region is very attractive, Latin America is a region which is special geologically.”

“Why is this mining so important? We can see that the growth in production has been very significant. Chile produces a third of the copper in the world and in annual terms of course, the trend is that after the meteoric rise in levels there is a slight slow down and decrease.”

“In truth,” Guajardo added, “Peru has great potential for gold, in the case of Argentina we say there is around $7bn in investment. Most of this investment is in the Chilean side and less is on the Argentine side.”

Resources, projects and consistency
Guajardo revealed how production had decreased in recent times, with projects either postponed or cancelled and a ‘stagnated’ market.

Investment is still fairly strong overall however, and additionally, many of the countries in the Latin America region are in a comparatively healthy position to keep progressing forward.

“We see in the slide that many of the projects have been cancelled or stagnated. In exploration projects, we see there is a significant amount of resources that have been cancelled,” Guajardo told attentive delegates.

“In Brazil, the South American colossus, there is investment of $25bn dollars. Brazil, similarly to Chile, has a state-controlled company and is more consistent in its investment plans. There are few changes in its investment plans in light of the financial crisis, as a result of this consistency.”

He concluded, “Very late last night, Ecuador approved its new mining law, it’s a very complex law but it could set the basis for many new exploration projects in the country. We are very optimistic. There is a note of optimism for what is coming after the first part of this year, which will be difficult.”