Chile’s Constituent Assembly rejects plans to nationalize parts of mining sector | Chile

Chile’s Constituent Assembly rejects plans to nationalize parts of mining sector |  Chile

A constituent assembly in Chile has rejected plans to nationalize parts of the crucial mining industry, defeating progressive hopes of overhauling the neoliberal Pinochet-era political regime.

The proposal, known as Article 27, would have given the state exclusive mining rights to lithium, rare metals and hydrocarbons, and a controlling interest in copper mines.

But it faced stiff opposition from the mining sector and was voted out last week over progressive hopes for a wealth redistribution in the world’s copper-producing nation.

Overthrowing the 1980 constitution adopted by right-wing dictator General Augusto Pinochet was the main objective of anti-government protests in 2019, which managed to set up a constituent assembly to oversee reforms.

The country’s Environment Commission put several variations of the article up for a vote on Saturday, but all failed to achieve the 103-vote supermajority needed to be included in the draft constitution.

However, a separate clause, Article 25, stating that miners must withhold “resources to remedy environmental damage” and adverse impacts where mining occurs, received an overwhelming majority and will be included in the draft constitution.

The assembly also approved the ban on mining in glaciers, protected areas and regions essential to protecting the water system. Articles guaranteeing farmers and indigenous peoples the right to traditional seeds, the right to safe and accessible energy, and protection of the oceans and atmosphere were also adopted.

Voting to approve articles ends after Saturday, and new commissions responsible for fine-tuning the text take over on Monday. The final draft is due in early July and citizens will vote on September 4 to accept or reject it.

The environment commission, which is dominated by self-proclaimed eco-members, saw only one of 40 of its proposals accepted in its first votes at the general meeting.

The Commission has since moderated its proposals, but its articles, including expanding protected areas, restricting private water rights and obliging states to combat climate change, have been included in the new draft text.

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