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  • GDP, US$bn: 545.2
  • GDP per capita, US$: 12,433.4
  • Population, mn: 43.4
  • Inflation, CPI ave: 41.2
  • FX, LCY/US$: 14.8
  • Budget Balance, % of GDP: -5.9
  • Mining GVA, US$bn: 20.0
  • Mining Industry Value, US$bn: 14.1
Regulatory Risk Rating
57
0
100
Score: 57
Moderate Risk
The Argentinean Mining Code offers a solid foundation for developers to operate; it has few hidden surprises and its discretionary elements are typically aimed at merely ensuring compliance with administrative procedures. The indefinite tenure of the ultimate property grant and the treatment of mining rights as property rights that can be bought, sold and mortgaged, offers greater comfort than might be reputationally imputed to the country.

Corruption Potential Index

Score: 80
Low Corruption Potential

Corruption Risk Index

Score: 86
Very Low Corruption Risk

Regulatory Risk Rating

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Mining Overview Commentary plus sign

MINING REGULATION

 GENERAL

Argentina, officially known as the Argentine Republic, is a federal republic located in South America. Together with Chile, it occupies the entire southern tip or “cone” of South America with Chile dominating the western edge of the elongated bulge and Argentina the central and eastern parts. Argentina also borders Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil to the north. To the east, the country has a long maritime border with the Atlantic Ocean. Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world and the second largest in Latin America (Brazil being the largest country) with a mainland area of 2,780,400 km2.

Argentina’s economy is the third largest in Latin America. Agriculture and manufacturing are more important to the country’s GDP than mining; however, the mining and energy sectors are not insignificant to the country. Argentina is an important producer of primary aluminum, lead, copper, zinc, silver and gold. Several major mining companies are operating in the country, including Glencore Xstrata, Teck and Barrick. Argentina is not without its difficulties in terms of corruption and it is ranked 107th out of 175 jurisdictions in the International Transparency Corruption Perceptions Index for 2014, alongside Bolivia (103) and Ecuador (110); the Fraser Institute ranks the country according to province and there is a wide range of perception index ratings ranging from 62 to 107 out of 109 jurisdictions reviewed.

 PRINCIPAL LEGISLATION AND REGULATOR

In 1993, Argentina implemented a new Mining Investment Law (No 24,196), as amended by Law No 25,429; a Mining Reorganization Law (No. 24,224); a Mining Modernization Law (No 24,498); as well as a Mining Federal Agreement (No. 24,228). In 1997, a Unified Text on Mining (Argentina Mining Code (AMC)) (Decree 456/97) was passed, incorporating all the previous amendments made to the Mining Law of 1993 (No 1919). Special regulations exist for hydrocarbons and radioactive minerals.

The federal administrative organization responsible for mining regulation is the Federal Ministry of Planning, Public Works and Investment (Ministerio de Planificacion Federal, Inversion Publica y Servicios), which has a Mining Department headed by the Secretary of Mines (Secretaria de Mineria). Each Argentine province has specific concession regulations and, according to the territory in which the mines are located, they are either classed as national or provincial private property (Art. 7, AMC).

 GRANTS AND FORM OF MINERAL TITLE

Mines are divided into three categories:

  • Mines that belong to the state and can only be mined by means of a concession (e.g., gold, silver, platinum, mercury, copper, iron, lead, tin, zinc, nickel, cobalt, bismuth, aluminum, beryllium, vanadium, cadmium, tantalum, molybdenum, lithium, potassium, fossil fuels and precious stones);

 

  • Mines which are either given in preference to the landowner or are designed as being of general public use (e.g., alluvial deposits, peat bogs and tailings from abandoned mines), and;

 

  • Mines that belong to a landowner and can not be mined without the owner’s consent (namely, quarry materials).

 

Mining rights are distinct under the law from surface rights and form a property right (Art. 11, AMC). The forms of mineral title are set out below:

  • Exploration Permit (Cateos): An exploration permit is mandatory to perform exploration activities. The permit application shall include a minimum work plan, a budget and a provisional surface charge, which will be refunded if the concession is rejected or granted for a smaller area. The titleholder has the exclusive right to obtain mining concessions over the exploration areas. The maximum duration of the exploration permit is three years and it is necessary to make a discovery in order to obtain a mining right. The area of each concession is divided in surface units of 500 hectares. The exploration concession cannot exceed 20 units and it is limited to a maximum of 20 concessions and 400 units for a single person or legal entity per province.

 

  • Mining Licenses (Minas): A mining license is granted upon a discovery. The AMC states that the state is bound to grant mining concessions to any person who discovers a mine. It also requires a work plan and budget, and the investment proposed must be incurred in order to avoid forfeiture. The licence is perpetual, as it is a form of real property right, but nevertheless there are ongoing obligations, such as the requirement to update the environmental plan, make annual payments and not stop work activities for a period of four years or more. According to Article 18, AMC, mines are granted for an unlimited time. Pertenencia is the area within which the mining operator performs mining activities and this must be defined and approved by a judge. The area has a horizontal length of 300m and 200m latitude, extendible to 300m. The measures for iron mines are 600/400 m, extendible to 600m; and coal and other combustible minerals 900/600 m extendible to 900 m. The enlargement and enhancement of the mining area are subject to a concession.

 

Each province has its own mining procedural law, which may be a mining administrative law or a mining procedural code: Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Corrientes, Chaco, Chubut, Entre Ríos, Formosa, Jujuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Neuquén, Río Negro, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero, Tierra del Fuego and Tucumán have administrative proceedings, whilst Catamarca and Salta judicial proceedings (similar to Chile).

 DEVELOPMENT CONSIDERATIONS

Mining operators are obliged to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to starting any mining activities. Each province has its own environmental authority, which approves or rejects the EIS within a period of 60 days from the EIS filing date. The EIS must be updated every two years according to the activities conducted. With respect to surface rights, there exists in favour of a miner an absolute right to acquire necessary surface rights (Art. 156 et seq., AMC), including the right to have such rights expropriated. Compensation may be due to the surface rights owner in such instances. Miners also have the right to use water and other rights necessary for mining activities, subject only to prior rights.

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS

See Argentina – Environmental Overview Commentary.

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Environmental Overview Commentary plus sign

ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION

GENERAL

Argentina is a federal republic located in South America. The Argentine mainland is located between the Andes Mountains, the South Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic continent and occupies the entire southern tip of South America. According to the World Wildlife Fund Living Planet Report 2014, Argentina is ranked among the top ten countries in terms of its biocapacity and the extent of its natural biodiversity; it is also one of the world’s megadiverse countries. The Iguazu Falls (Misiones Region), previously recognised as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, sits on the Brazil/Argentine border. Argentina's highest point is Mount Aconcagua in the Mendoza Province (6,959 m above sea level), which is also the highest point in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres.

With respect to fauna, most species live in the subtropical north and notable animals include: the howler monkey, the jaguar, puma, ocelot and various large reptiles such as crocodiles and caimans. There is also a wide variety of birds. The territorial waters of Argentina have abundant ocean life: mammals, such as dolphins, orcas, and whales, and sea fish including sardines, hakes, dolphinfish, salmon and sharks populate the region’s seas. The country has a widely varied climate, encompassing all types of conditions, from tropical to sub-polar.

As with many countries in South America, deforestation is a key environmental issue, as is pollution, with air and water pollution common.

PRINCIPAL LEGISLATION AND REGULATOR

Article 41 of the Argentinian Constitution guarantees the right to a healthy environment, one that is suitable for human development and present human needs without affecting future generations. The General Environmental Law No. 25675 (2002) (Ley General del Ambiente) and Law No. 24585 (which amended the Mining Code) are particularly relevant in relation to the regulation of environmental impacts arising from mining operations. The latter law introduced environmental impact assessments (EIAs) in relation to prospecting and mining activities and assigned responsibility for its enforcement to the Provincial Authorities. The so-called Federal Environmental Pact (1993) promotes the development of environmental policies within the national territory, providing framework agreements between the Provinces and the Nation in order to improve environmental preservation.

The Environmental Federal Council (Consejo Federal de Medio Ambiente in Spanish, or COFEMA) facilitates cooperation between the Nation and the Provinces. More detailed information on the relevant authorities that administer the EIA process in a given province is set out below.

EIA PROCESS

The General Environmental Law states that any activity that adversely affects the environment or the quality of life of a given population must be made the subject of an EIA prior to the relevant activity being undertaken (Art. 11). An environmental impact study (EIS) must be completed, which must contain a detailed description of the project or activity, the anticipated environmental consequences of the activity and a mitigation plan. According to the Mining Code, operators are obliged to submit an EIS prior to the commencement of prospecting or mining activities. Each Province has its own environmental authority, which is required to issue a decision on an EIS within 60 days from the filing date. The EIS (or Declaración de Impacto Ambiental (DIA) in Spanish) must be updated every two years according to the activities conducted and results and observations made.

Additional information in respect of the EIA process, or other matters concerning environmental law in the provinces is set out below:

  • Buenos Aires: This province is one of the largest mineral producers in the country, particularly non-metallic minerals. The EIA process is regulated by Law 123 and its amendments (Law 452 and 1733) and the Environmental Undersecretary Resolution No. 873. The promoters should present a Manifiesto Ambiental to the Environmental Protection Agency (La Agencia de Protección Ambiental (APrA)) in order to obtain the Certificado de Aptitud Ambiental (Environmental Approval Certificate).

 

  • Catamarca: According to Decree 1318/97, the competent environmental authority on mining activities is the Environmental Management Department (Unidad de Gestión Ambiental Provincial (UGAP)) of the Secretary of Mines (Secretaria de Estado de Minería). The Decree states the minimum content for an EIA in the prospecting, exploration and mining stages.

 

  • Chaco: The Constitution and Law 3964 reiterate the obligation of submitting a study and undertaking an EIA; while there are no regulations specifically identifying the relevant ministry, all issues relating to EIA are likely to be handled by the Planning and Environmental Ministry (Ministerio de Planificación y Ambiente).

 

  • Chubut: Pursuant to Law XVII-Nº 68, it is forbidden to engage in open pit mining activities within the province, as well as utilize cyanide.

 

  • Córdoba: In 2008, Law 9526 was issued banning all mining activities within the Córdoba territory.

 

  • Corrientes: The Water and Environmental Institute (Instituto Correntino del Agua y del Ambiente (ICAA)), created by means of Decree No. 212, is the competent body to exercise authority over EIAs in respect of mining matters (Art. 9b). According to Law 5067, open pit mining activities are subject to an EIA.

 

  • Entre Ríos: Decree 4977, issued in December 2009, states that responsibility for the EIA process is shared between the Mining Bureau (Dirección de Minería) and the Secretary of Sustainable Environment (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente). A mining operator shall submit an EIS to the Mining Bureau for review, who then forwards the EIS to the Secretary of Sustainable Environment for final approval.

 

  • Formosa: Law 1578 states that the Ministry of Environment and Production (Ministero de la Producción y Ambiente)is the competent authority in respect of EIAs.

 

  • Jujuy: The Mining and Hydrocarbon Secretary (Secretario de Minería e Hidrocarburos de la Provincia de Jujuy) of the Production Ministry (Ministerio de Producción de la Provincia de Jujuy) is the competent body in respect of the EIA process. Its functions include the establishment of a sustainable development system on mining and hydrocarbon resources. Further information on the EIA process in relation to mining is laid out in Decree 5707/2010.

 

  • La Pampa: According to Law 2349, the use of cyanide, mercury, sulphuric acid and any chemical contaminant is banned within the territory of the province of La Pampa during prospecting, exploration, extraction, mining, processing and/or industrialization activities of metallic minerals. Also, open pit mining activities of metallic minerals are prohibited.

 

  • La Rioja: This province does not have a specific regulation regarding EIA, however, according to La Rioja Environmental Law 7801, the use of mineral resources by any person or entity is subject to the Mining Code, the Mining Procedural Code of La Rioja and other complementary laws.

 

  • Mendoza: Law 7722 prohibits the use of cyanide, mercury, sulphur acid and other toxic substances in mining activities. For each mining stage (prospecting, exploration, exploitation and transportation / industrialization), an EIS (or DIA) must be approved (see Decree 820/2006).

 

  • Misiones: Law 3079 on the use and implementation of EIAs provides that activities stated by the regulation, such as mining activities (Art.3.e), are subject to an EIA.

 

  • Neuquén: The Environmental and Sustainable Development Secretary (Secretaría de Estado de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible) was created by means of Law No. 2841 (which modified Law No. 2798). The Secretary has a Bureau of Environmental Assessment on Mining Activities (Dirección de Evaluación Ambiental Minera) that is in charge of the EIA within the province of Neuquén (see also Decree 2267/1999).

 

  • Río Negro: The Provincial Council on Environmental Assessment of Mining Activities (Consejo Provincial de Evaluación Ambiental Minero (COPEAM))) was created by law 4738/2011, and is responsible for the assessment of EIAs, which mining may generate in the province (see also Law No. 3266).

 

  • Salta: The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Production (Ministro de Ambiente y Producción Sustentable) is responsible for supporting the Governor in all matters relating to the environment, including industrial, commercial, farming, energy, natural resources and mining activities (see Law No. 3097 for details on EIA).

 

  • Santa Cruz: The competent authority for EIAs is the Mining Development Bureau (Dirección de Desarrollo Minero), belonging to the State Secretary of Mining (Secretaría de Estado de Minería) (see also Law No. 2658).

 

  • Santa Fe: The Secretary of Environment (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente) is the EIA authority responsible for issuing the Environmental Aptitude Certificate. According to Provincial Decree 101, mining activities are subject to the prior acquisition of this certificate (see also Law No. 11717).

 

  • San Juan: The Environmental Assessment Directorate (Dirección de Evaluación Ambiental Minera) is the responsible body for coordinating and assessing the EIS, as well as monitoring compliance with the Environmental Impact Statement by mining operators. See Law No. 6571 for details of the EIA process.

 

  • San Luis: According to Article 11(f) of Law IX-0465-2005, the Provincial Directorate of Mining (Dirección Provincial de Minería) is responsible for the assessment of EIAs in respect of mining activities. Law N° 634 (2008) bans the use of cyanide in mining activities.

 

  • Santiago del Estero: Law 2738 provides that the Geological, Soil and Mining Directorate (Dirección General de Minería, Geología y Suelos) is the responsible body for managing and monitoring mining activities and is in charge of all queries related to mining rights according to the Mining Code and other applicable rules. The EIA process in the province is detailed within Law No. 6321 and Decree 506.

 

  • Tierra del Fuego: Open pit mining in respect of metallic minerals is forbidden by Law N°853.

 

  • Tucuman: Law Nº 7879 (2007) bans open pit mining activities and the use of cyanide and mercury in production processes.

 

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