Argentina celebrates mining day, Pascua Lama go-ahead

8th May 2009 By: Francisca Pouiller - Creamer Media Correspondent: South America

BUENOS AIRES ( – The construction of Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama project, on the border of Argentina and Chile, is expected to contribute significantly to local economic development, government officials and company representatives said this week.

Barrick announced plans to build the project on Thursday, which, fittingly, is when Argentina celebrates 'national mining day', with festivities around the country to mark the passing of the first Mining Law, on May 7, 1813.

During a meeting with Argentine government officials, Barrick CEO Aaron Regent and chairperson Peter Munk said that Pascua Lama will have a significantly positive effect on local economic growth, and is expected to create some 14 500 direct and indirect jobs.

Barrick also plans to continue to explore its large land package around the project for additional mineral deposits.

As well as the go-ahead for the $3-billion Pascua Lama project, 2009 will also see the four other big mines ramping up - Pan American Silver Corp’s Manantial Espejo, in the province of Santa Cruz, Yamana Gold’s Gualcamayo in San Juan, Sierra Grande in Rio Negro controlled by China Mining Group Corporation, and Silver Standard’s Piriquitas, located in Jujuy.

For the first time, there will be 14 world class mines in production at the same time in Argentina.

In the province of San Juan, where the Pascua Lama processing plant will be built, Mining Secretary Felipe Saavedra said at a mining day celebration that production of gold, copper and other metals in the province has not been significantly affected by the crisis.

The province is already benefiting from operations like Barrick's Veladero mine, Yamana's Gualcamayo and the El Pachón copper mine being developed by Xstrata Copper.

Like Pascua Lama, El Pachón is on the border of Chile and Argentina and falls under the Chile-Argentina Mining Integration Agreement.

Elsewhere in Argentina, in the northern province of Jujuy, the CEO of Argentine mining company Minera Aguilar, Antonio Galdeano, participated in the local mining festival, and reiterated the company's commitment not to implement significant job cuts, despite the difficulties of the economic crisis.

Minera Aguilar plans to ramp up its annual throughput to 800 000 t/y, Galdeano said.