Energy and Minerals

The Western Hemisphere is the largest consumer of energy in the world, and even though this is due largely to high per-capita use in the United States and Canada, energy consumption in Latin America and the Caribbean is due to accelerate rapidly in the near future. Energy production and management in the region will be a large factor in attracting future investment and growth; it is for this reason that the Bolivian Summit's Plan of Action dedicated several initiatives to the topic.

At the same time, mineral resources continue to be very important for the economic stability of several countries of the hemisphere. The mining industry provides jobs and, through these jobs, incomes that help alleviate poverty and promote regional development. With this in mind, the Santa Cruz Summit addresses the topic of minerals in its Plan of Action, under Initiatives 63, 64, and 65.

Actions and programs related to energy and minerals that have been implemented since the Santa Cruz Summit are listed below.

Regional and Cross-Border Energy Cooperation

  • Energy ministers have gathered three times in three years (Washington DC, Santa Cruz, Bolivia and Venezuela) in an effort to increase regional cooperation and integration. As a result, the Hemispheric Energy Steering Committee and the Energy Coordination Secretariat were founded.
  • Electric line interconnections now exist between Chile and Argentina and Venezuela and Colombia.
  • Plans are underway for natural gas interconnections between Argentina and Chile and Bolivia and Brazil; proposals and studies have begun for other areas as well.
  • With the help of the Joint Implementation Initiative, twenty-one Latin American and Caribbean countries have been approved for clean energy projects.

Regulatory, Institutional, and Cooperative Initiatives for Clean Energy Projects

  • In Costa Rica, Argentina, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, wind energy projects have been implemented.
  • In Mexico, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Costa Rica, and El Salvador, geothermal power development has been explored as an alternate form of energy.
  • Sustainable Markets for Sustainable Energy Program (SMSE), 1996: created to support the formation of sustainable markets for "sustainable energy."
  • Several countries throughout the hemisphere are also working towards energy conservation and promoting energy-efficient technologies.

Rural Electrification

  • Argentina - initiated a US$300 million program to provide universal coverage over the next ten years.
  • Brazil - implemented an initiative that would electrify 5,000 communities in the country by 1999.
  • Mexico - as of 1996, 95% of Mexico's population had electricity. By 2000, the country sought to increase electrification to a rate of 97%.


  • Meeting of the Ministers of Mining of the Americas: Santiago, Chile, 1997 and Arequipa, Peru, 1997: six groups were appointed to study Bolivian mining initiatives.
  • Regional collaboration on mining issues is the Ministers' goal for the future.


  • The region still must confront severe energy challenges: urban brownouts and blackouts, lack of electrical access in rural areas, and environmental concerns.
  • Uneven income disparities throughout the region make multi-national cooperation and integration difficult.
  • Regional inconsistencies between private and public rule of the sector further complicate cooperation and integration.
  • The use of environmentally sound and energy efficient technology requires a serious commitment from policy-makers and currently does not have the support it needs to be effective.
  • Variations in regulations, ownership rights, wages, and adequate training programs in the mining sector make regional cooperation and integration still more difficult.



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