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Chile rises as potential LNG destination.



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15 July 2005

CHILE RISES AS POTENTIAL LNG DESTINATION

Chile is emerging as a potential new market for Australian liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said today.

Speaking at the Australia-Chile Mining Forum in Sydney, Mr Macfarlane said he was encouraged by comments yesterday from Chilean President Ricardo Lagos expressing an interest in importing Australian gas.

“Australia’s known gas reserves are approaching some 200 trillion cubic feet,” Mr Macfarlane told the forum.

“And it’s no secret that a number of Australian LNG proponents have their sights firmly set on new markets in the Americas - including Chile.”

Mr Macfarlane said Australia was well positioned to help Chile meet its energy needs and he would explore the possibility further during an upcoming visit to the country proposed for August.

The emerging LNG export opportunity follows a growing integration of the Australian-Chile resource economies in recent years.

Mr Macfarlane said Chile was increasingly the base-of-choice for Australian resource companies looking to expand their operations into South America.

“At the same time, Australia has now become a significant source of foreign investment in Chile, with BHP Billiton’s 57.9% stake in the Escondida copper mine being the largest single foreign investment in the country.”

Mr Macfarlane said Australia’s world-class expertise in mining technology presented another opportunity to further link the nations’ resource sectors.

“We’re now at the stage where some 60 percent of the world’s mines use technology developed by Australian companies.

“And as the industry strives towards a $6 billion export sales target by 2010, Chile has been identified as an important - and growing - market for Australian mining innovation.”