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Chile’s ex-president Bachelet considers mining law changes

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet, a popular centre-left politician who appears in recent polls as the favourite to win this year’s presidential election in Chile, said on Tuesday she is studying possible changes to the country’s mining policy.

Interviewed by local paper La Tercera (in Spanish), Bachelet said the likely changes include altering mining royalties and funding programs for state-owned mining company Codelco, the world’s No. 1 copper producer.

Bachelet, who ruled the South American nation from 2006 to 2010, becoming the first female president in Chile’s history, did not say whether she was in favour or not of Barrick Gold’s (TSX, NYSE: ABX) suspended $8.5bn Pascua-Lama gold project.

However, she did day that Barrick has the responsibility to comply with regulatory orders before authorities can decided whether “it can be given the go-ahead or not.”

Major mega-miners such as BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore Xstrata have operations in Chile.

Copper accounts for 60% of the country’s exports and 15% of its gross domestic product.

The country is home to 30% of the world’s known copper reserves.

Image from Wikimedia Commons