Ecuadorian mining exports on the road to a definitive rise

Published on 22 September 2020

The introduction of copper to the export portfolio and the new operations will cause a significant increase of Ecuador’s overseas sales value.

2020 has been a complicated year for economies around the world. However, there are mitigating factors such as the diversification of the export portfolio. This is something Ecuador has managed to promote with the start of copper production in its mines, which until the beginning of 2019 were limited to exploration. This occurs within the framework of the recent launch of the country's Mining Development Plan (PDM, by the Spanish acronym), which implies the projection of reaching US $ 65,000 million in metal exports within the next ten years.

On the other hand, having gold among the resources exploited by companies operating in their territory, has allowed them to take advantege of the increase in the price of this precious metal. Due to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the price has reached historical highs of over US $ 2,000 an ounce, even above the period after the 2008/2009 financial crisis.

It should be empahasized that, at the moment, Ecuador cannot be considered a mining country like Peru or Chile, but it is moving on that direction. The following table details the value of the exports of the main metals produced in its mines. As can be seen, these are still low compared to the banana or shrimp industries, which exceed US $ 3,000 million annually each.

It should be noted that Ecuador has the advantage of having deposits of industrial and precious metals, as well as historically mining countries, such as Mexico and Peru. In this way, they can generate coverage when the global economy is in trouble, and benefit from the demand for the refining of inputs of heavy manufacturing and technology.

The following tables show the detail of the main destinations for each product. It should be noted that, at the moment, a considerable percentage of copper is sent to Peru to be handled by traders in specialized logistics facilities, which could soon be developed in Ecuador if the scale increases.

A fundamental aspect for the progress of the Ecuadorian mining industry will be the development of projects in a complex social scenario. The government work will be crucial to ensure that rigorous and comprehensive studies can be developed and approved on time, with the participation of all stakeholders. For now, a great leap has already been made and the trend could continue to materialize the PDM goal. The following table shows the first results of the development efforts.

This is the panorama of Ecuadorian mining. The outcomes will depend largely on the support of public opinion for business development and the seriousness of the work in exploration and production. The resumption of projects such as San Carlos Parantza and Río Blanco, as well as the continuity and success of Mirador, Fruta del Norte and Loma Larga depend on the joint work of all the beneficiaries. Only in this way can the goal of the PDM be achieved and attract more capital to generate new jobs and improve the quality of life of Ecuadorians.

For more details on Ecuadorian metal exports, you can visit the Veritrade portal.
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