27/06/2013 - 13:54

Mining opportunities in Latin America

27/06/2013 - 13:54

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Mining opportunities in Latin America
LATIN ATTRACTION: TSG Consulting has worked with BHP Billiton on its Escondida copper mine, in northern Chile. Photo: BHPB

Major investments in Latin America by some of the world's biggest miners have provided a number of mining services companies with the opportunity to get a toehold in the region.

Australian Latin American Business Council chair José Blanco said there were about 80 Australian companies involved in mining in Chile and a smaller number operating in Brazil and Peru.

He said mining services companies such as Micromine, Otraco and Hoffman Engineering had been part of that cohort following investments by companies including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata Copper and Xstrata Coal.

"There is a growing list of Australian companies that have invested in the region, both through greenfields ventures and acquisitions that are enjoying solid success. Companies such as Ausenco, SKM, Worley Parsons, Austin Engineering, ALS and

many others are today active in many markets in the region and have achieved strong results," Mr Blanco said.

"There is a challenge for WA to increase its engagement with Latin America across the board. The reality is that over the past decade WA resource companies have tended to prefer going into the African continent.

"But I think that trend is going to alter and we're likely to see more companies starting to take a closer look at Latin America. The region is showing signs of greater stability and more sustainable growth.

"Chile is the market that has been consistently the best performer economically. Peru has grown at a faster rate recently, though, and Columbia in the last few years has started to grow solidly."

For Perth-based TSG Consulting, which provides analysis and optimisation of supply chains for resources clients, work in Peru for Cerro Verde's copper and molybdenum mine nine years ago led to a continued presence and expansion of its South American operations.

TSG has worked with BHP Billiton on its Chilean Escondida copper mine, and with several engineering companies.

A year ago, TSG opened an office in Chile, relocating two senior staff.

Director Craig Stewart said the transition had not been simple, but it had engaged with various professionals and was planning to hire local recruits over the coming 12 to 24 months.

"There is no checklist you can download and hence you have to use your initiative and be proactive in your dealings," he said.

"These complexities aside, TSG believe there is a strong future in the South American market."

 

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