Chile’s draft constitution rejects Pinochet-era mining reform

Chile’s draft constitution rejects Pinochet-era mining reform

A constitutional assembly in Chile has rejected plans to nationalise parts of the crucial mining industry in a blow to progressive hopes of overhauling the neoliberal Pinochet-era political settlement.

The proposal, known as article 27, would have given the state exclusive mining rights over lithium, rare metals and hydrocarbons and a majority stake in copper mines.

It faced fierce opposition from the mining sector and was voted down last week, in a defeat for progressive hopes of distributing wealth in the world's top copper producing nation.

The constitution of 1980 adopted by rightwing dictator Augusto Pinochet was the main objective of anti-government protests in 2019 that succeeded in establishing a constitutional assembly to oversee reform.

The country's environmental commission submitted multiple versions of the article to a vote on Saturday, but they didn't achieve the 103 vote supermajority needed to pass into the draft constitution.

A separate clause, article 25, which states that miners must set aside resources to repair damage to the environment and harmful effects where mining takes place, was supermajority and will be included in the draft constitution.

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

The article voting ends after Saturday, and new commissions in charge of fine tuning the text take over on Monday. The final draft is due in early July and citizens will vote on 4 September to approve or reject it.

One of 40 of its proposals was approved by the environmental commission, which was dominated by self-proclaimed ecoconstituents, during their first votes in the general assembly.

The commission has moderated its proposals, but its articles including expansion of protected lands, restricting private water rights and making combating climate change a state obligation were included in the new draft text.