U.S. mining equipment and technology enjoy a 75 percent market share in Argentina. Given the market’s industry potential, U.S. suppliers of mining related technology should take advantage of the opportunity and consider Argentina as a market for expansion.
Argentina’s mining sector holds significant potential. Although there is a healthy level of mining sector activity, and a substantial number of projects in the pipeline, the country’s natural resources remain largely untapped. Argentina’s 2022 mining exports accounted for about $3.8 billion, achieving 4 percent growth year-on-year, and the country holds resources to expand production and achieve exports well worth over $18 billion per annum by 2030.
Argentina’s current top mineable ore minerals are gold, silver, and copper. In lithium, Argentina is home to the world’s third largest reserves and is the fourth largest producer. Although over 70 percent of Argentina’s proven lithium resources have not yet been prospected, lithium mining is the industry’s fastest growing segment. Currently, Argentina has two lithium projects in production and six under construction. In 2022, Argentina exported 44,000 tons of lithium, worth $696 million, which represent about 18 percent of total mining exports. Major players include Alkem, Lithium Americas, Livent, Lake Resources, and POSCO, among a variety of PRC companies.
Argentina’s $30 billion mining portfolio features 113 projects, of which 19 are currently in production and seven under construction. The rest of the projects are in feasibility (6), prefeasibility (6), pre-economic assessment (13), and advanced exploration (62) status. Copper mining related projects represent well above 50 percent of the portfolio. Argentina also features deposits of target minerals such as aluminum, boron, iron, molybdenum, potash, uranium, vanadium, and zinc. Argentina holds potential for a five-fold increase in mining exports in the next decade.
Another growing mining industry segment is siliceous sands used in hydraulic fracturing, which is a critical element to increase non-conventional hydrocarbon production in Argentina’s flagship shale basin, Vaca Muerta.
Argentina’s regulatory framework has positioned the marketplace as a preferred investment destination for lithium mining in contrast with neighboring markets. Argentina joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2018, which is a global standard for good governance of oil and gas and mineral resources. The mining sector’s regulatory framework is governed by a specific mining investment law (No. 24.196), and new foreign investment promotion policy (Decree 234/21 & 836/21).
For additional information, including market analysis, trade events, contacts, and the products and services that the U.S. Commercial Service can provide to help you succeed in the Argentine market, please contact Marcelo Amden, Industry Specialist.