Insight – Unearthing copper and lithium opportunities in Argentina


Opportunities are increasing for Australian mining equipment, technology and services providers in Argentina’s emerging mining sector.

Argentina is among the world’s top 15 mining exploration investment destinations. Exploration investment hit its highest level in a decade in 2022. Exports are expected to more than double to $8.6 billion by 2025 (Source: MINING.COM, Argentina mining exploration hits decade high in 2022, 6 July 2023).

Argentina currently has 18 operating mines, 95 projects at an advanced stage and more than 200 in the initial stages. By 2030, 8 projects that are under construction are expected to go into operation. The country’s largest potential lies in its lithium and copper reserves, which are critical to the world’s energy transition path.

Opportunities for Australian miners in Argentina

Australia is one of the leading countries exploring and investing in the extractives sector in Argentina. Over 20 Australian mining companies have invested in the market.

Argentina has the world’s second largest lithium reserves, located in the Lithium Triangle, shared with Chile and Bolivia. It is the world’s fourth largest lithium producer. Two major lithium operating mines (Olaroz and Fenix) currently produce 37.5 k tons of LCE.

With new projects coming into operation in the next few years, production is expected to grow to 290 k tons by the end of the decade. (Source: Ministerio de Economia, Mining in Argentina: reasons to invest, January 2023, [PDF 991 KB]; US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries 2023, January 2023 [PDF 11.5 MB].

Argentina shares the same mountain range (the Andes) with Chile, the world’s largest exporter of copper. As demand for copper grows, investors have started to look on the other side of the Andes. This has created an investment boom in Argentina’s copper sector, with several large-scale projects coming into production in the next years. They include Josemaria, Pachon, Taca Taca, Los Azules, Filo del Sol and Valle de Chita.

These projects will open a vast range of opportunities for Australian METS companies with expertise in exploration, mining and extraction. The projects are also looking for advanced mining machinery and technology to optimise operations, increase productivity and improve sustainability practices.

Australian METS and miners shine at Arminera

Australia was invited to be the first-ever host country at Arminera, Argentina’s premier mining event. The event, held from 22–24 May 2023, attracted over 12,000 visitors, 280 exhibiting companies and 7 country delegations.

Australia’s delegation of 16 companies and over 80 delegates was its largest to date. Austrade hosted the Australian Pavilion and organised 3 seminars featuring keynote speakers from Australian mining and METS companies and stakeholders.

Day 1 included a session with Australian mining companies with projects across 4 provinces and 3 minerals and stages. They provided a snapshot of diverse projects and potential in Argentina:

  • BHP, with copper exploration projects in San Juan
  • Allkem, producing lithium in Jujuy
  • Lake Resources, with an advanced lithium project in Catamarca
  • Power Minerals, with early lithium exploration projects in Salta
  • Challenger, with advanced gold exploration projects in San Juan.

Day 2 showcased 6 Australian METS companies: Worley, Orica, GroundProbe, Ausenco, Glencore Technology and Imdex. The companies presented their solutions to improve safety, productivity, connectivity and efficiency on mining projects.

Day 3 saw an all-women panel showcasing Australian expertise and leading practices related to social licence to operate, education and sustainable mining issues.

Other activities included a how-to-do-business presentation, one-on-one meetings, and a networking event with 200 guests. This event was hosted by Austrade’s General Manager for the Americas, Tony Davis, the Australian Ambassador to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay Dr. Simon Twisk, and the Canadian Embassy.

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