Despite economic shortages stemming from sanitary restrictions in force during most of 2020 and 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, gold has managed to become the second most exported product in the Argentine province of Salta, a study showed.
A deposit in the Los Andes department has demanded a US $ 239 million investment. It is estimated activity will continue at this pace for another 15 years.
For the first time in the history of the province, gold became the second most exported product with a record output in the first nine months of the year, which represents a 53% growth.
A recent report by the Canadian capital company which works with the Mansfield subsidiary in Salta has shown that, between July and September 2021, 26,235 ounces of gold were extracted, consisting of 24,318 ounces in doré and 1,918 ounces of gold inventory in carbon.
The report released by the provincial Department of Statistics and Censuses applies to the first quarter of this year when the output of gold from Salta represented 18% of the total exported, with a growth of 36% in that period. Thus, it was one percentage point below corn (19% of the total exported) and six points above white beans (12%).
The second quarter of 2021 had placed 1,477,000 tons of ore on the leach pad averaging 0.95 grams per ton of gold, with an estimated 44,889 ounces of gold. Total gold production for the quarter was 19,521 ounces, 73% of the company's plan.
The data is in line with the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC), which had reported a 1.6% growth in exports from the Argentine Northwest region, mainly due to the growth of corn and metal mining: lithium, gold and silver.
Since the 1970s, the province's main mineral export has been borates. Last year, companies based in Salta shipped over 66,000 tons of minerals to 38 destinations worldwide.
The main importer of borates from Salta is Brazil, which in 2020 bought for a value of US $ 15,687,294. Other destinations include Germany, India, New Zealand and Peru. Relatively, the price of borate is lower, so that foreign exchange earnings do not have much impact.
The Lindero mine alone has yielded 36% more gold in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the second, the Fortuna Silver Mines company, in charge of that project announced. Company sources admitted such an output did have an impact on the province's economy. Compared to the second quarter, Lindero produced almost 36% more gold and concerning the first three months of this year, the increase was 53%.
“Although Lindero is still in a stage of achieving regularity in its production that began in November 2020, the recent news that Lindero's gold constitutes the second exporting complex in the Province gives an idea of what a single exporter can achieve,” Facundo Huidobro, Mansfield Minera's Director of Institutional Relations, told the local newspaper El Tribuno.
“The project is the result of an intense exploratory program carried out by the Mansfield company in the Argentine Puna since 1994. This successful program produced the discovery of many mineral deposits and Lindero was the most emblematic project due to its technical characteristics. As is usual in this activity, every mine arises from a previous exploratory process,” he added.
“Since the arrival of Fortuna Silver Mines to Salta, in 2016, a series of studies have been carried out that determined that the Lindero deposit currently has reserves of 82 million tons of rock containing an average of 0.62 grams of gold per tonne rock make a total of 1.65 million ounces of gold to be produced and exported during the estimated 13-year mine life,” he forecast.