MENDOZA, Argentina: Antonov used an AN124-100 recently to move mining equipment weighing a total of 24 tonnes from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina – a total of 39 minutes flying time.
The reason for the last minute charter by Hunt & Palmer was bad weather had closed the road that links Santiago with Mendoza via the 3,200 meter high Andean Paso Los Libertadores.
The consignment included two large industrial piping filtration units, measuring 12 meters long, four meters wide, and 3.6 meters high destined for the Veladero mine in San Juan, 95 miles north of Mendoza.
“The road conditions in the region were too hazardous [and] the end user could not risk transporting the cargo by road,” says Hunt & Palmer charter broker Dan Litten.
“No special adjustment or external equipment was required for what was one of the shortest flights we have operated in a decade,” adds Antonov commercial executive Martin Banns. “We were able to lift the cargo straight off the trailers with the aircraft’s internal cranes.
Argentina’s mining industry employs 41,000 people and contributes US$15 billion or 3.2 percent to the country’s GDP, with US$4 billion produced in annual exports. Some 80-85 percent is fuel extraction followed by non-metallic and metallic minerals.
According to a recent study by Deloitte, open cast mining is permitted in the Mendoza region with the exception of processes using cyanide, mercury and sulphuric acid due to fears of water table pollution. Agriculture remains Argentina’s single largest export valued at over US$41 billion.
The country’s new government has lifted restrictions on mining exports that are expected to lower industry costs by 8.0 percent and increase sales by 5.0 percent. Mining companies active in Argentina include Glencore, Goldcorp, Yamana Gold, Galaxy, Eramet, First Quantum Minerals, Barrick Gold, Patagonia Gold, Pan American Silver and McEwen Mining.