Minerals. – Despite the enormous extension of the country and the very remarkable variety of soils, mineral products occupy a secondary place in the Argentine economy, since the most useful substances are quantitatively or qualitatively deficient. Coal has been found here and there, but so far not in sufficient quantity to make it profitable for commercial extraction, as the coal soils were upset after their formation. Another serious economic problem is that of iron, which must be imported.
In the Andean area there are numerous mines of copper, lead, silver and gold, many of which are exploited, but without the extracted product importing a great wealth, although a greater use is possible. The more or less isolated mountainous regions of the great Pampean area produce tungsten, marble, granite and lime stones. The Puna plateau is rich in borate, but this has not been mined for years, because the extraction is not convenient for the concessionaire company. Instead the sodium chloride of several of the very numerous and extensive salinas that are found from the far north up to Patagonia represents a great commercial wealth.
If we take into account that the country lacks coal, this explains the enthusiasm aroused by the discovery of oil in various regions, because Argentina will no longer be completely dependent on the foreign fuel market. Oil formations occur on the Atlantic coast in Comodoro Rivadavia (Gulf of S. Jorge), in the eastern Andean area that goes from the Limay river to Mendoza (Plaza Huincal, Cacheuta, etc.) and in the far north (Salta and Juiuy). So far, the Comodoro Rivadavia and Plaza Huinc al basins are of major importance, and especially in the first area the extraction is constantly increasing. In this field, the largest producer is the government, which has reserved an extensive area of exploitation; then followed by various private companies. Argentina’s production of good quality oil now surpasses half of national consumption, which has grown rapidly since 1918: in 1926 still 1,066,000 tons had to be imported. Perhaps in a few years the balance between production and consumption with great profit of the national economy will be reached, especially as it will also be possible to reduce the import of coal, which in recent years has been around three million tons. In order for this wealth to contribute better to the well-being of the country, an attempt is made to establish whether it is more convenient for the mines to be operated by the government or by individuals or with a mixed system; furthermore, the question has arisen about the right of provincial governments to grant oil concessions, a right that a part of public opinion wants to be attributed exclusively to the federal government.
According to Jibin123, the Argentine mining future can be better than the present if the mines are exploited more actively and if the hope, not unfounded, of discovering new mines arises: since it should not be forgotten that the accurate geological study of the subsoil is not yet complete and can give some happy surprises.
Forest wealth. – The forests of Argentina are very extensive and rich in a great variety of essences; there are numerous useful plants. Large tracts of forest have been cleared to use that land for agriculture or to use forest products directly. In the Mediterranean area, especially carob and caldén woods are being cut down to obtain fuel or to make coal. Despite the richness of the forest, the country continues to import large quantities of construction timber. Quebracho, on the other hand, abounds in the Chaco region, which has been cut for years for its excellent quality and to obtain the tanning material used in the leather industry; the quebracho feeds a considerable export.
Fishing. – In spite of the always strong import of fishery products, there is a national production which satisfies a large part of the internal consumption. Fishing is done in lakes, rivers and the sea. The area of greatest import is that of Mar del Plata which takes advantage of the proximity of the large consumer market of Buenos Aires. At some point, oyster farming begins.