A constitutional assembly in Chile has rejected plans to nationalize parts of the crucial mining industry in a blow to progressive hopes of overhauling Pinochet-era neoliberal political settlement.
The proposal, known as Article 27, would have given the state exclusive mining rights to lithium, rare metals and hydrocarbons and a majority stake in copper mines.
But it faced fierce opposition from the mining sector and was voted out last week in defeat for progressive hopes of wealth redistribution in the world’s largest copper-producing nation.
Overthrowing the 1980 constitution, passed by right-wing dictator General Augusto Pinochet, was the main goal of the 2019 anti-government protests, which managed to establish a constitutional assembly to oversee the reforms.
The country’s environmental committee put several variants of the article to the vote on Saturday, but all failed to reach the super-majority of 103 votes needed to pass the draft constitution.
However, a separate clause, Article 25, stating that miners must “reserve funds for repairing damage” to the environment and adverse effects where mining takes place, gained a super majority and will be included in the draft constitution.
The meeting also approved a ban on mining in glaciers, protected areas and regions essential for protecting the water system. Articles guaranteeing farmers and indigenous peoples the right to traditional seeds, the right to safe and accessible energy, and the protection of oceans and the atmosphere were also approved.
After Saturday, a vote will be taken to approve articles and Monday, new committees responsible for refining the text will take over. The final draft is expected in early July and citizens will vote on September 4 to approve or reject it.
The environment committee, dominated by self-proclaimed eco-constituents, saw only one of 40 of its proposals approved in their first general assembly vote.
The commission has since moderated its proposals, but its articles, including expanding protected areas, limiting private water rights and making combating climate change a state obligation, were included in the new draft text.