Chile constitution drafters set for key debate on mining

April 21, 2022

Chile's constitutional assembly will start debating dozens of articles that could reshape how the nation regulates the mining industry. Chile is the top copper producer in the world and is home to rich lithium projects, minerals that are in high demand.

More than 52 articles including protecting water sources, glaciers and wetlands will be debated before voting was set to begin on April 21 and 22. The proposals overall establish stricter environmental regulation for mining.

Reuters reported that articles need a super-majority of 103 votes in the 154 member assembly to be added to the draft constitution that will face a plebiscite later this year. Articles that get a simple majority will undergo further amendments and future second vote.

The articles, which have been toned down amid pushback by the mining sector and concern over radical proposals such as mine nationalizations, would nonetheless lay the foundations for greater scrutiny of mining and its environmental impact.

Chileans overwhelmingly voted to draft a new constitution in 2020 after protests against inequality rocked the Andean country in 2019. Political infighting and controversial suggestions have though led to a drop in support for the process.

The assembly has until mid-May to approve articles for the draft constitution and until July to have the draft fully completed. Chileans will vote to approve or reject the new constitution on Sept. 4.

If voters reject it, the country will stick with its current market-orientated constitution, which dates back to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet over three decades ago.


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