May 19 - Fluor Chile logistics manager, Alex Azparrent kicked off the 5th Breakbulk Europe event on an optimistic note and said that it's an increasingly buoyant market in South America especially for mining and mineral exploitation. Ian Matheson reports
Whilst many projects were shelved towards the end of 2008, improving commodity prices is adding clarity for investors and after a 12 - 14 month flat period, projects are being restarted, suggested Azparrent.
"Copper and gold are driving the recovery. Fiscal and political stability in countries like Peru and Chile are also very important factors underpinning the recovery."
Mr Azparrent outlined 11 major projects in Peru alone which are undergoing final feasibility studies; four of which involving Fluor; and a further 10 in Chile each with a development value in excess of USD1 billion; three of which involve Fluor including Pascua Lama, Cerro Casale and Caserones - the final two of which have just been awarded to Fluor.
Furthermore, although Argentina has never been perceived as a mining country, there are signs that there is significant potential there too stated Mr Azparrent.
Mr Azparrent cautioned that infrastucture challenges create significant logistics issues in the development or expansion of mines in South America.
"Typically mine sites are high in the Andes, creating significant road access issues. Altitude sickness can make a job which takes a day at sea level take twice as long." Terrible weather conditions - approach roads to the Pascua Lama site can experience wind speeds in excess of 220km/h, closing access and causing delays.
Mr Azpaarent concluded on a positive note for suppliers of equipment used in mining and processing and said that they should be encouraged by developments in South America, as should the shipping lines and project forwarders which serve them. He paid tribute to the work being done by PanProjects, BBC Charetring and Intermarine on Fluor's behalf in various South American mining projects.