Although Argentina has a variety of mineral deposits, mining has historically been of only modest importance to the nation’s economy. Since the 1990s, however, production of petroleum and natural gas has increased significantly. In 2006 fuel products accounted for 14.6 percent of national exports. In addition to petroleum and natural gas, relatively small quantities of iron ore, gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, and boron are also mined in Argentina. In terms of value, the chief mineral product is petroleum. In 2004 production of crude petroleum was 271 million barrels, furnishing the country’s needs and allowing Argentina to become a net energy exporter. Major petroleum reserves are located in Patagonia and offshore near the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Natural gas production has doubled since the 1980s to about 41 billion cubic meters in 2003, with reserves located mainly in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
Most industry in Argentina is centered along the Paraná River from Rosario to the city of Buenos Aires, and industry employs 24 percent of the national labor force. The country’s oldest industry is the processing and packaging of foodstuffs. By the early 1990s the production of petroleum products had exceeded food processing in value. Other important manufactured goods are motor vehicles; consumer goods such as refrigerators, washing machines, and television sets; pharmaceuticals and cosmetics; electronic equipment; and fibers.
Although most rivers and falls with potential energy are located far from industrial centers, Argentina is developing its water resources at a rapid rate.
Major hydroelectric projects include the Yacyretá Dam on the Paraná River (in cooperation with Paraguay) and the Salto Grande on the Uruguay River (in cooperation with Uruguay). The first of 20 generators at Yacyretá, one of the world’s largest hydroelectric facilities, was activated in 1994, but cost overruns, corruption, environmental problems, and construction delays slowed the completion of the project considerably. In early 2005 the governments of Argentina and Paraguay agreed to complete the Yacyretá hydroelectric project by 2008.
While most electricity is generated by hydroelectric or thermal power plants, Argentina has one of the most advanced nuclear energy programs in Latin America, providing 7 percent of the country’s electrical needs. Overall, Argentine power plants generated 109.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006. Encarta "Argentina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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