August 27, 2019 / 3:25 AM / 3 months ago

Argentina opposition candidate Fernandez meets with mining companies, governors

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s opposition candidate Alberto Fernandez told mining companies and governors from key mining provinces on Monday that exports were “the only solution” for Argentina, his coalition said.

Presidential candidate Alberto Fernandez makes the victory sign as he attends voting at a polling station during the primary elections, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 11, 2019. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Fernandez, the front-runner for October’s presidential election, told the companies that his team has been working on a plan to create a legal framework that provides certainty for investments in the Vaca Muerta shale oil play and the country’s lithium mining sector, according to a press release about the meeting from his “Frente de Todos” coalition.

Speaking in front of representatives for companies with mining activity in Santa Cruz and Catamarca provinces, Fernandez also said he wanted to promote the flow of dollars into Argentina, without putting controls on taking money out, a source present for the meeting said, adding that his comments were “reassuring.”

“If I do my job right, companies will want to keep their money in Argentina,” Fernandez said during the meeting, attended by between 30 and 40 people in a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, according to the source.

Representatives from companies including Glencore Plc, Galan Lithium, Neo Lithium, Livent Corp, Posco, Antofalla Minerals, Newmont Goldcorp and Galaxy Lithium America, attended the meeting, the coalition said.

The mining companies opened with remarks directed to Fernandez, asking for continuity in the sector, ease in importing equipment and taking money out of the country, the source said.

For his part, Fernandez said his goal was to ensure continuity in the sector for 10 years, and added that mining regulation would continue at the provincial level, the source added.

He said he considered mining an opportunity, rather than a problem, and vowed not to be an obstacle to the sector, which includes lithium, copper, gold and silver, the source said.

The comments were some of the strongest signals yet by Fernandez on his plans for the sector amid investor concerns his government, if elected, could revert to the interventionist policies of former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is now his vice presidential running mate.

Mining investments plummeted when Fernandez de Kirchner, who governed Argentina from 2007-2015, imposed a 5% tax on mining exports and banned companies from sending profits to foreign headquarters. Free-markets proponent President Mauricio Macri ditched trade and currency controls, including the 5% tax on mining exports, but later introduced a tax across all exports as part of the fiscal goals under the $57-billion IMF standby agreement.

Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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