As we anticipated (see Bi-Monthly Mining Report of July 10), Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli vocalized his strong support for “sustainable mining” at a seminar in San Juan Province on Friday July 17. In fact, at the event, Scioli went even further than expected in emphasizing the industry's economic benefits and statements regarding his plans if elected.
To begin with, Scioli highlighted the importance of mining to Argentina’s economy, both at present and in the future. Alongside his vice presidential running mate, Legal and Technical Secretary Zannini, Scioli said “mining has the capacity to generate USD 30 billion in the next four years and hundreds of jobs”. Similar to previous statements, he argued that sustainable mining is part of the national development agenda and “a cornerstone, like energy sovereignty, agribusiness, science, technology and tourism”. He argued that if elected, his administration would aim to strengthen the industry’s productivity and competitiveness. In doing so, Scioli emphasized that his government would seek to replicate the experience in San Juan, where Governor José Luis Gioja has managed to successfully balance the interests of various stakeholders, including companies, workers, local communities, indigenous populations and environmental groups.
In addition, the presidential front-runner made two important points about how his administration would help drive the industry's growth. Firstly, Scioli stated that he would not simply wait for foreign investors to take an interest in Argentina's mining industry. Instead, he would “go out to the world” to attract the necessary investments. He argued that he wished to make it clear to employers and future investors that “they will find in Argentina a land of opportunity”. Secondly, Scioli underlined the importance of a federal approach to mining, arguing that he would support and strengthen the “productive federalism" of the provinces. This latter point was later echoed by one of the Argentine Development foundation's (DAR) experts on mining and Secretary of the Latin Mining Organization (OLAMI), Hugo Nielson. Following the seminar, Nielson said that Scioli would like to work towards creating a more unified (and supportive) approach to mining in Argentina. Nielson revealed that if elected, Scioli would aim to sign a new federal agreement on mining with all of the provinces, emphasizing that his administration would consider the individual circumstances of each jurisdiction.
The event has been widely reported in the Argentine press and was well-attended – including by mining companies, service providers, unions and representatives from most provinces – in a large part due to Gioja's influence. Although originally designed by Nielson as a gathering to discuss technical issues, the seminar quickly developed into a political event. Gioja, a close friend of Scioli, suggested that the seminar be proceeded by a gathering of the Federal Association of Mining Provinces (OFEMI). Following the meeting, Scioli announced that Buenos Aires Province would be joining the organization (as will Tierra del Fuego). In addition, the morning of the seminar, both Argentina's mining chamber (CAEM) and a group of service suppliers released communiqués that were highly critical of the current administration's approach to mining, particularly that of federal Mining Secretary Jorge Mayoral. As a result, according to our sources, Mayoral was asked to refrain from speaking at the event.