Australia is world-renowned for its mining prowess. The industry is supported by a stable political climate and strong economic outputs, resulting in 26 years of consecutive economic growth in the country.
As Australian mining and mining-related companies connect, expand and grow together, and seek out international projects, the sophistication of Australia’s mining capability increases. We look at the potential for Australian miners to capitalize on this expertise in Latin American mining zones.
Concentrated areas for mining in Latin America
Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico and Colombia are all mineral hot spots in the region, with each showing off their own specific specialty. Brazil, the largest country in the region by both population and economic scale, is the world’s top iron-ore producer. The country also puts out significant volumes of nickel and aluminium. Chile is also a significant contributor to world supply of copper and lithium, producing 28% of global output and holding around a third of the earth’s lithium reserves.
Peru and Mexico are both high producers of silver and gold. Peru produces the most gold in the region, and is the second-largest sulver supplier in the world. Mexico is the world’s eighth-largest gold producer and contributes to 20% of the world’s silver supply.
Colombia characteristically holds the mining world’s attention with its quality emeralds. These Colombian gems undergo a slightly different mineralization process than most others, giving the stone greater clarity and saturation of colour.
Ecuador has also recently introduced a revamped mining policy that aims to free up the country’s previously confusing regulations around mining and make the market more attractive for foreign exploration companies. Now with less government intervention and greater clarity in regulatory framework, miners are welcomed to explore Ecuador’s significant iron ore, copper, gold, silver, antimony reserves.
Where are the gaps?
Currently, it appears that though the region is collectively developing at a rapid rate, there are still gaps in terms of the privileges that advanced industries in developed nations enjoy that haven’t yet reached Latin American shores. Innovation and technological sophistication of mining practices and equipment are somewhat lacking in regional mining hotspots.
Specifically, many of the continent’s mining giants face increasing issues with building positive legacies around mining operations. There’s room to grow in how the government and mining firms communicate and cooperate with local communities to ensure longevity in their surrounding environment, and also economic prosperity for the area that mining operations can generate. Public consultation methods need a boost, and mining companies need to find a way to adjust their policies and public face to ensure locals know how their environment will be protected and preserved.
Innovation and sustainability needs
As sustainability efforts and pledges move higher on government priority lists in the face of climate change, mining and mining-related companies have to take note. It’s no secret that exploration and exploitation practices can have significant long-term impacts on the environment where those activities take place.
However, mining generates such high proportions of total income in resource-rich nations that operations can’t necessarily be stopped immediately and completely. Therefore, a balance must be struck.
There are some areas for improvement in the technology at play in Latin America’s mining sector. Saving on water resources by employing machinery run on alternative energy would be a positive step towards reducing the consumption of vital (and finite) natural resources. Importantly, this would both decrease mining operations’ carbon footprints, and also enable miners to integrate more harmoniously with the communities that their operations affect directly.
Beyond new, eco-friendly technology, assistance with greater waste and water management methods would also support the growth and development of regional miners in the right direction.
Australia’s high performing mining sector
Australia excels in a range of mining pursuits, thanks to its strong, stable economy and importantly, its rich endowment of natural resources. Australia’s geography lends itself to unique formations and significant reserves in iron ore, gold, bauxite, lead, rare earth elements, zinc, uranium and diamond. On top of this the country houses large deposits of zircon, ilmenite, and rutile. Manganese, black coal, manganese, silver, nickel, antimony, copper, cobalt and tin are also significant elements of the country’s mineral outputs.
Mining has therefore, unsurprisingly, supported Australia’s economy since the 19th century. It’s been a steady revenue generator for the country, contributing to around 8.5% of the country’s GDP, and over 50% of overall export earnings.
As the backbone of the South Pacific Island nation, resources and logistics surrounding the mining sector are treated with great significance. Leading industry body for mining-related companies, Austmine, has been driving the growth of peripheral services and innovations to continue developing Australia’s mining capability. This is known locally as METS.
In Australia, METS is the amalgamation of Mining Equipment, Technology and Services companies into one broad peripheral sector. With the intent to preserve, develop and innovate the way Australia conducts mining operations, METS is encouraged to thrive with government and network support.
According to Austmine, this clutch of industries generates around AU$90 billion each year, pitching their products to more than 200 countries and providing jobs for around 400,000 people. It’s clear METS firms are integral to Australia’s mining and economic success. Having grown out of economic necessity and desires to secure and future-proof a key Australian output, METS companies are supported to develop key networks, technology and methods for miners worldwide.
Opportunities for cooperation
Connecting with Latin American partners to share expertise, experience and new technology is a key opportunity for Australian companies in engaging with this region. Logistics and machinery providers can pave the way for business-to-business cooperation by seeking out market opportunities across the Pacific.
Thanks to the Australian government’s strong desire to forge new and stronger connections with its partners in the region, the country’s ambitious businesses are now more empowered to bridge the Oceanic gap and make credible, enduring differences to the Latin American mining sector. With its worldwide reputation and powerful network, METS and miners have the opportunity to shape mining practices and capabilities in the region, and work together towards a more sustainable and innovative future.
Explore your opportunities with us
You’ve got the expertise, and we’ve got the corporate know-how. Australia’s mining companies have great potential in what appears to be a largely untapped region abundant with natural wealth. If you’re ready to explore your mining and/or logistics opportunities in Latin America, we’re here to help make it happen.
At Biz Latin Hub, we’ve developed high performing teams of local and expatriate professionals across Latin America, including in each of the countries we’ve written about above. We are up to date with all bureaucratic and corporate compliance requirements that you need to know in order to incorporate a company and start your LATAM operations.
Our tailored back-office services ensure a smooth transition into your desired market. Reach out to us today at [email protected] for more information about how we can support you.