Chile’s Antofagasta Eyeing Copper Opportunities Over the Andes

  • CEO Arriagada encouraged by Argentina’s transformation
  • Company interested in early-stage exploration projects

Antofagasta Plc, the copper miner owned by Chile’s wealthiest family, is taking a keen interest in Argentina’s efforts to lure back investors and open up its mining industry.

The Santiago-based company is interested in gaining a foothold in Argentina through exploration projects after President Mauricio Macri repealed currency controls and taxes and resolved a bond dispute to rejoin debt markets.

“This is early days for us in terms of looking at the transformation that is taking place, but I am very encouraged from what I’ve seen,” Chief Executive Officer Ivan Arriagada said in an interview in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. “Argentina is very close to our main centers of operations. There should be geological potential and opportunities in Argentina.”

Arriagada, who took over as CEO of the $6.4 billion miner from retiring industry veteran Diego Hernandez in April, was in Buenos Aires this week attending an investor summit.

He said he was impressed with the extent of alignment among government officials and different political parties in terms of integrating Argentina back into global markets and industries.

Given how much money has to be invested in mining projects and the long lead times, the industry will be looking to see consistency in the new policies over time, Arriagada said.

For now, the London-listed company is focusing on exploration opportunities rather than operating mines in Argentina.

“Early-stage exploration targets are something that we would be quite keen at looking at,” he said.

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