Uruguay Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

Uruguay’s most important natural resources are the large pastures and the fertile soil. The only mineral deposits worth extracting are iron ore and some gold. The energy demand is mainly covered by imported crude oil and hydropower.

Mining is primarily concentrated on producing building materials, such as sand, macadam, granite and limestone. But a disputed law on large-scale mining was adopted in 2013 with the aim of enabling the extraction of large iron ore deposits found in Valentines in central Uruguay.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Uruguay with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

The government supports the multinational mining company Zamin Ferro’s plans to invest in mining operations. It would be the largest foreign direct investment in Uruguay’s history and the extraction would make the country one of the world’s largest iron ore producers. However, the resistance is strong, critics fear damage to the environment and say the profits will not benefit the country.

Oil accounts for almost two-thirds of the total energy demand. Hydropower is also important and generates between just over half and up to 90 percent of electricity. The variations are large from year to year depending on how much it rains. An expansion of wind power is ongoing and investments are also being made on solar energy.

In recent years, hopes have also been raised that there are natural gas sources that are large enough to make extraction profitable. Uruguay has previously imported natural gas from Argentina, but the neighboring country’s production has fallen so much that it has instead become a net importer.

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In 2013, a French company was given permission to build a facility in Montevideo’s port to convert liquid natural gas from liquid to gas. In addition to domestic consumption, the gas is planned to be used for export to Argentina, through the pipelines previously used for import.


Energy use per person

1,378 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

3068 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

6 747 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

2.0 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

58.0 percent (2015)

Uruguay Energy and Environment Facts

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