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Pan American Silver soars after long-awaited Argentina mining law changes

New York-traded shares of Pan American Silver jumped as much as 8.6%, the most since May, after provincial lawmakers in Argentina paved the way for the company’s $1-billion Navidad silver mine.

Lawmakers in Chubut on Wednesday voted in favour of a zoning law allowing mining in the Gastre-Telsen zone of the province, where the Vancouver-based company has been planning to dig for silver.

“This is a first step after 19 years of waiting for the zoning law,” Ricardo Zarandon, country manager for Pan American, said in an interview.

The move by Chubut will be closely observed by global mining companies amid decades of wrangling in Argentine provinces, where they’ve been unable to dig up huge mineral resources because of environmental opposition and political infighting.

The next steps, Zarandon said, are for Chubut Governor Mariano Arcioni to enact the law and, within 90 days of that, for the province to publish specific rules needed to put the law into practice.

“We’ll then have the legal instruments to evaluate the project, finish the environmental impact study and request our permits,” Zarandon said.