The Economy Ministry on Thursday exempted mining company Eramine Sudamérica from the requirement to liquidate all its dollar income in the official currency market, for it to keep investing in a lithium project in Salta.
Eramine, which is the local subsidiary of French mining company Eramet, has already invested US$680 million in the construction of a lithium extraction plant in a salt desert in the Centenario-Ratones area, in Salta province.
The project has a 40-year lifespan and aims to start exporting in 2024, with an initial yearly export projection of US$74 million, rising to US$300 million in 2026. The company started to build its production plant in early 2022, in partnership with Chinese steel group Tsingshan.
On Thursday, the Economy Ministry granted Eramine its entry into the Investment Promotion Regime for Exports, which allows exporting companies to keep up to 20% of their export income in foreign currency, rather than exchanging it for pesos in the official currency market. Companies that enter the Regime have to use the money for paying debts to finance investments.
Centenario-Ratones will be the first lithium project whose production is all extracted in Argentina.
“Argentina has the chance to become a key player in the transition to cleaner energies and granting the certificate is a big step in building a framework of trust and promotion of the mining sector,” said Minister of Economy Sergio Massa.
Mining Secretary Fernanda Ávila said bringing the company into the Regime represents “one more step in the creation of a development framework for the mining industry, which generates clear rules and provides legal certainty”.
“We want companies to bet on the resources and human and scientific capital that our country offers,” she added.
Argentina is currently the fourth largest lithium producer in the world. Five other lithium projects in Jujuy, Salta, and Catamarca are expected to start production soon. The country is expected to export US$5.6 billion worth of lithium annually by 2025.
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