SÃO PAULO Latin
America is the worlds most popular precious and
nonferrous metals exploration destination, yet most countries
in the region have recently suffered water and energy supply
problems for their mining industries, according to a report
released earlier this year by consultancy SNL Metals Economics
The region attracted 25 percent
of global investment in 2012, SNL said.
The exact amount of mineral
resources on the continent remains unknown, but the lack of
infrastructure for the mining industryespecially water
and energy supplies, when combined with the lack of integration
in the regionresults in barriers to the progress of local
Chile, the worlds biggest
copper producer, is currently discussing ways to enhance its
energy supply structure and avoid future problems fulfilling
mining company power demands.
Peru is aiming to increase its
copper production, and could eventually surpass Chile as the
biggest producer in the world. But there are many challenges to
overcome and the industry has faced protests from local
communities against new projects, such as Greenwood Village,
Colo.-based Newmont Mining Corp.s Minas Conga project,
and Lima, Peru-based Southern Copper Corp.s Tía
The Brazilian government
recently reduced energy tariffs (
amm.com, May 13), which had been among
the highest in the world.
Paraguay has one of the highest
electricity capacities per capita in the world and has for
years been discussing the development of a local metals
industry, which would be prompted by plans for a Rio Tinto
aluminum smelter, although no agreement has yet been reached on
prices for energy to be charged over the coming decades.
Some of these problems could be
solved if integration among countries on the continent was
stronger, but this isnt the case.
Mercosur, the treaty relating to
the free circulation of goods and services between some of
Latin Americas major players, was signed in 1991 by
Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Venezuela became a
full member of the group in 2012, while Chile, Colombia,
Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia act as associate members.
But the treaty didnt
achieve its initial aim of economic union due to differences in
the policies of member states.
Paraguay has been suspended from
the group since it impeached its then-president Fernando Lugo
in June 2012, a move considered by other Mercosur members to
effectively be a coup detat.
The new Paraguayan elected
president, Horacio Cartes, has said he is willing to bring the
country back into the Mercosur fold, according to local media.
But Cartes wont take power until Aug. 15.
A version of this article was
first published by AMM sister publication Metal