Australian miners to invest $140bn in Latin America, but region disappoints

Australian mining investment in Latin America is expected to reach more than $140 billion (A$150 bn) over the next decade, as more Aussie companies invest in the region, reports AAP.

Speaking on the first day of the “Latin America Down Under” conference, in Sydney, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr said there currently are 80 companies involved in 200 projects in the region and that number is expected to grow significantly in the next 10 years.

Australia is already the main foreign investor in Chile’s mining sector and it expects to increase presence in the rest of the countries.

“From Australia’s perspective, Latin America is a region of vast potential on the rise (…) Our job, in government, will be to make the most of the links we have, to set a stage in which new ties can be built, and encourage the interaction that will be to our mutual benefit,” Carr was quoted as saying.

However the region, which lead global mining exploration spending attracting 25% of it in 2011, is falling off some analysts’ top mining destinations list, as its five main investment-grade markets — Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Colombia— have been expanding below projections or showing signs of weakness.

Based on Bloomberg’s figures, Mexico’s gross domestic product missed estimates, while Brazil’s central bank cut the country’s 2013 outlook this week for the second time in seven days, predicting the worst three-year period in a decade.

Colombia's large-scale miners recently cut their five-year capex plans by 42.3% in the face of falling commodity prices and lower growth in economies such as China, reports Business News Americas (subs. required).

And although Latin America has managed to reduce poverty and debt indexes, mostly by increasing primary exports, estimates for the region’s economic expansion this year have declined to 3.4% from 3.8% six months ago.

If the region continues to go downhill investors will pull back, told Bloomberg James Gaul, a portfolio manager at Boston Advisors LLC, which oversees about $2.5 billion in assets.