Due to the impetus of Vaca Muerta, mining doubled its income in Neuquén

2023 closed with good numbers in the Neuquén mining sector, since thanks to the greater demand for materials that the oil activity had with a focus on Vaca Muerta, Mining also closed a great year with a 100% increase in income and a 12.7% increase in production.

The information corresponds to the provincial directorate of Mining, an area that depends on the undersecretariat of Energy, Mining and Hydrocarbons, from where it was detailed that throughout the In 2023, a total of 4,522,930 tons of minerals were extracted.

This increase allowed the value of mining production to double, reaching a total of 18,635 million pesos. “It is the fifth consecutive year since 2019, with a pandemic involved, that activity has been growing in quantity and value. Although it was declared an essential activity, it never stopped, but the demand did. In 2022 it reached pre-pandemic levels and in 2023 it greatly exceeded them,” indicated the provincial director of Mining, Carlos Portilla.

“The largest product in demand has to do with Vaca Muerta,” Portilla explained and detailed that these are “the minerals and rocks conventionally called aggregates. The gravel, the pellets, the sand that are used a lot in constructions aimed at drilling platforms, the placement of pipelines, the facilities that make up that entire industry, the access roads.”

The Minister of Mining pointed out that along with the greater demand for these minerals there is also registered an increase in its price, which together led to strong growth in the sector during 2023.

Fury over the sands for Vaca Muerta

The director of Mining of Neuquén recognized that there is a very high interest in the sands close to Vaca Muerta. “Have more than 100 requests between searches and mines for the sands in Neuquén. In some cases they are quite advanced with laboratory studies that already give them a positive result. However, that is a certain scale. Now they have to produce the test at an industrial level, that is, extract volumes of interest and test them in a well,” he noted.

Although siliceous sands are not a reality yet, Portilla assured that “it is a very important impact for mining in the province and also for the high impact that transportation has on regional routes. If the amount of sand that comes from other provinces can be partially replaced, it is a virtuous circle for everyone.”.

In terms of production, the third category rocks and minerals (which include aggregates and flagstone) stood out in the sector panorama during 2023, representing the 81% of the total produced, with a total volume of 3,685,832 tons.

As for the exports of minerals, gypsum, limestone, dolomite and cement were sent to Chili. United States, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile They received bentonites. TO Italy, Brazil and the United States quartz geodes were exported.

The director of Mining of Neuquén, Carlos Portillahighlighted that it is the fifth consecutive year that the sector has grown.

“The export of geodes has been added for a couple of years. It is a quartz with a very characteristic color of the province, a rose quartz, which finds its destiny in different countries. They do not make up an important fraction of the production, but when sold in dollars the incidence per ton of these minerals is much higher than that sold in our country,” he highlighted.

Last year, Neuquén exported a total of 39,888 tons of minerals, worth 493,540,950 pesos. Compared to the previous year, fewer tons were exported (-22.5%) but their value increased (37.7%). Regarding active deposits, 126 were registered in operation in 2023, which represents an increase of 23.5% compared to 2022.

This growth led to an increase in the employment within this sector. According to data collected by the provincial Mining Directorate, An increase of 14% is observed, with a total of 3,039 direct and indirect positions.

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