MAC: Mines and Communities

Argentine Exploration Budget Triples To Us$159mn

Published by MAC on 2006-03-23

Argentine exploration budget triples to US$159mn

by Emily Russell

23rd March 2006

Mineral exploration budgets in Argentina more than tripled in 2005 to US$159mn compared to the previous year, an official from Canada's Metals Economics Group (MEM) told BNamericas.

"Argentina made a big jump from 2004 to 2005 from about US$50mn to US$159mn," said Jason Goulden, director of MEG's prestigious annual Corporate Exploration Strategies survey.

This propels Argentina, a country with an emerging mining sector, up into the league of Latin America's major mining countries - Chile, Peru, Mexico and Brazil - which have enjoyed triple figure exploration spending in recent years.

Argentina's exploration boom can be explained by its own economic recovery from the 2001-2002 crisis, improved metals prices, and the success of previous exploration which had unearthed large-scale deposits such as Barrick's Veladero (San Juan provience) gold and Northern Orion's Agua Rica (Catamarca provience) copper projects.

Together the top five Latin American countries gobble up 80% of all exploration spending in the region, led in descending order by Peru, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and finally Argentina, according to Goulden.

In 2005 Peru spent US$242mn on exploration, Mexico US$232mn, Chile US$163mn and Brazil US$162mn, all increases on the previous year, according to Goulden.

Latin America has been the world's most popular destination for exploration over at least the past decade with 23.1%, or US$1.13bn, of the worldwide exploration budget in 2005 alone, the MEG survey shows.

Founded in 1981, MEG is the primary source of information and analysis on global mineral exploration based on data compiled for its annual Corporate Exploration Strategies report.

The 2005 report was based on the analysis of 1,431 exploration budgets, using a US$100,000 cut-off, totaling US$4.89bn which MEG estimates represents 95% of commercial, nonferrous exploration spending worldwide.

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