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Argentine potash mine finalizes selection of $1 bln investor

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BUENOS AIRES, Sep 4 (Reuters) - Authorities from Argentina's Mendoza province have finalized the selection process for a $1 billion investor to help develop a potash mine, the governor said on Monday, more than a decade after Brazil's Vale SA shelved the project amid price pressures. "We have finished the bid selection process for the development of the potassium mine in Malargue," Mendoza Governor Rodolfo Suarez said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Authorities will now advance in the final negotiations of a contract to develop the Rio Colorado mine with the most qualified bidder, following UBS' guidelines, he added.

More than 30 national and international companies participated in the bidding process, according to Suarez.

The construction period for the complex is expected to be five years with a likely annual production of 1.5 million metric tons. "The reactivation of this project will double the province's exports," Suarez said. Vale withdrew from the project in December 2012 amid a slump in potash prices and the government's refusal to offer tax concessions to mitigate soaring costs linked to inflation. Before the stoppage of the project, the Brazilian company had invested $2.2 billion in the mine, completing 45% of the works. Argentina, an agricultural powerhouse, is making efforts to lure global mining firms by offering tax breaks and promises of security. (Reporting by Lucila Sigal; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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