Argentina announces development of huge potassium deposits with Brazil
President Cristina Fernández announced on Thursday the development of a mining project between Neuquén, Mendoza and Río Negro provinces which will led by Brazilian company Vale, and is expected to become the largest potassium mining site in the world.
“I like that fact that this project will be developed with Brazil,” added Cristina Fernández arguing that “the agreement will thus restore our trade balance with Brazil.”
The project involves extracting and processing 4.3 million tons of potassium annually, with an investment of 5.9 billion dollars, turning Argentina into the world’s third exporter and fifth producer.
Vale Doce together with Petrobras are Brazil’s leading international corporations and is ranked with Anglo-Australian with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton as the three major mining enterprises in the world.
The president said the magnitude of the project is a big confidence plus for Argentina and will a great boost for Argentina and Brazilian agriculture since potassium is one of three basic nutrients for agriculture (together with nitrogen and phosphorus).
The project is in Malargue some 200 kilometres from the city of Mendoza and includes production, processing and distribution of potassium chloride “and will have us among the five leading countries in the world”.
“We do not have phosphorus and are forced to import it from Morocco, as does Brazil, but I’m sure that if we keep looking, with such a huge territory, we are bound to find phosphorus”, said Cristina Fernandez.
Argentine government sources added that the deposits are expected to keep production for 40 years creating 16.750 jobs. The project will demand 870 kilometres of railway lines, (550 km to be repaired and 370 km new). By 2014 the railway should be transporting 2.4 million tons of potassium chloride and will have its own loading harbour at Ingeniero White, next to Bahía Blanca in Buenos Aires province.
The Head of State also called for South American countries to make joint efforts to become a breakout region in the century we are living in.
“I want to highlight the strategic need we have in South America to join efforts to become a major leading region in the 21st century” she emphasized.
Cabinet chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina and Ministers Julio De Vido (Planning), Florencio Randazzo (Interior) and Débora Giorgi (Industry) and Vice-president Amado Boudou attended the ceremony