Chilean constitutional assembly votes down mining nationalisation bill

A constitutional assembly in Chile – the world’s top copper producing nation – has rejected a controversial piece of legislation which would have led to a nationalisation of parts of the mining industry.

Article 27, which proposed exclusive state mining rights for lithium, rare metals and hydrocarbons plus a majority stake in copper mines, failed to achieve the 103 vote supermajority needed to pass into the draft constitution.

However, another bill – Article 25 – stating that miners must set aside ‘resources to repair damage’ to the environment where mining takes place, did get the supermajority required for the draft constitution.

The assembly also approved a ban on mining in glaciers, protected areas and those essential to protecting the water system, in addition to articles supporting indigenous workers’ rights and protection of the oceans and atmosphere.

The final draft is due in early July and citizens will vote to approve or reject it on 4 September.

Since his election victory in December last year, Chile’s left-wing President Gabriel Boric has pledged to tighten environmental regulations in the mining sector, which accounts for more than 50% of Chile’s exports.

However, explorers and producers in the industry feared a resource nationalism policy that would increase Chile’s jurisdictional risk profile. Following the voting down of Article 27, BHP’s Americas president Ragnar Udd said the company has ‘some really, really exciting plans for Chile’.