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Chile: Second largest producer of lithium

307 20.May.2022 KZ Editor

Major copper producers BHP Billiton and Freeport-McMoRan are likely to avoid drastic changes to the way they do business, as drafters of Chile's new constitution wrap up deliberations on mining proposals.

In Chile's constitutional assembly vote on Saturday, the temporary and revocable licensing system planned to replace the country's investor-friendly franchise model failed to meet the two-thirds threshold for inclusion in documents set for a September 4 referendum.

While the document has eased from previous iterations that required state majority ownership of projects, the mining industry warns that it still fails to provide the legal certainty needed for investment, which is critical to delivering the clean energy transition. Chile has the largest reserves of wiring metals used to electrify the economy. To be sure, Saturday's meeting vote means the draft constitution will lack dedicated mining regulations, leaving the legislation more vulnerable to future uncertainty.


Juan Carlos Guajardo, head of the consultancy Plusmining, said: “On the one hand, it excludes the risks initially foreseen, but on the other hand, it makes everything subject to simple laws, So subservient to indirect politics predominates. But there's no question we're in a much better position than at the beginning of this story."

Among other measures that could affect resource projects, the draft charter would include expanding environmental governance and redesigning water regulations to focus on land availability and protection of supplies.

The proposals were put forward by a committee of young eco-activists and leftists elected following protests over inequality that began in October 2019. Membership across the conference floor is more diverse.

In Saturday's vote, meeting members approved a ban on all mining within the glacier, but rejected similar proposals for salt flats, wetlands, permafrost and the seafloor. Chile is the world's second-largest lithium producer due to the mineral-laden brine in the deserts of northern Chile. At the same time, the meeting also approved a national guarantee for "equitable and non-discriminatory" access to energy.

The proposals were put forward by a committee of young eco-activists and leftists who emerged after inequality protests that began in October 2019. The membership of the entire assembly is more diverse.

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