Mining companies in Chile seek input into the country’s new constitution

Joaquín Villarino, head of Chile’s Mining Council. (Image by Consejo Minero Chile, Flickr).

Mining companies operating in Chile will seek to enter the constitutional debate set to start soon in the world’s top copper-producing nation as the firms try to preserve growth of the sector, an industry leader told local media on Saturday.

A broad political agreement generated after the violent social protests that shook Chile in 2019 resulted in an assembly of 155 members that will have to draft a new constitution for the country.

Joaquin Villarino, head of the Mining Council – which unites large firms such as Anglo American, Antofagasta, Barrick and BHP – told local newspaper El Mercurio that it had written a document outlining how the companies would like to operate under the new constitution.

“There are some things that should be kept because they have been positive and have contributed to this country achieving levels of development that no other country in Latin America has,” Villarino was quoted as saying in the newspaper story.

“It seems to us it would be a mistake to blur the things that have been positive,” he said.

The document drawn up by the council addresses environmental regulations, which have been much debated in Chile, and the form in which mining companies interact with indigenous populations and the local towns where mines are located.

The initiative by the council comes at a time of historically high copper prices and as the copper and lithium mining industries are the focus of a nationwide debate on sales royalties.

(By Fabian Cambero and Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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