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ECONOMY | 21-12-2023 20:22

Milei looks to cut costs for Argentina’s miners in broader deregulation push

President Javier Milei wants to turn Argentina’s lithium and copper rush into an investment bonanza — starting with cutting red-tape.

President Javier Milei wants to turn Argentina’s lithium and copper rush into an investment bonanza — starting with cutting red-tape.

Milei, a libertarian who took office on December 10 vowing to free up Argentina’s tightly controlled economy, unveiled a package of deregulation measures late Wednesday that would help a slew of industries. He singled out cutting costs for mining companies that in recent years have been lured to vast deposits in the Andes as the transition to clean energy spurs demand for battery metals.

Read More: Electrification Rush Spurs Record Argentine Investments

“Mining is another area with great potential in the country that is notably underdeveloped,” reads the presidential decree outlining the reforms. “To that end, we must eliminate costs.”

Milei plans to do that by revoking two laws enacted in the 1990s — the National System for Mining Trade and the National Mining Data Bank. Both require firms to provide reams of data to the government. 

He’s also planning to do away with customs restrictions. The previous government sought to keep some lithium production for local use to develop a downstream industry.

“From today on, it’s prohibited to prohibit exports,” Milei said.

To be sure, his measures could yet face opposition in Congress, where his party is a minority. Even if the red-tape burden is eased for mining, a far bigger challenge remains for Milei in the form of lifting capital and currency controls.

Argentina is the world’s fastest-growing producer of battery-grade lithium. It also has several big copper projects in the works, although no major operating mines.

by Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg

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