Chile's constitutional assembly rejects major mining overhaul



SANTIAGO, May 13 (Reuters) - A constitutional assembly in the world's top-copper producing nation on Saturday rejected a major overhaul to mining rights, including expanding Chilean state ownership.

Controversial Article 27, which would have given the state exclusive mining rights over lithium, rare metals and hydrocarbons and a majority stake in copper mines, faced fierce opposition from the mining sector and was voted down last week.

The environmental commission submitted multiple variations of the article to a vote on Saturday, but they all failed to achieve the 103-vote supermajority needed to pass into the draft constitution.

Article 25, which states that miners must set aside "resources to repair damage" to the environment and harmful effects where mining takes place, did get a supermajority and will be in the draft constitution.

The assembly also approved banning mining in glaciers, protected areas and those 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 protection of oceans and the atmosphere were also approved.

Voting to approve articles concludes after Saturday's votes, 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 to approve or reject it on Sept. 4.

The environmental commission, dominated by self-proclaimed eco-constituents, saw just one of 40 of its proposals approved during their first votes in the general assembly.

The commission has since 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.
Reporting by Alexander Villegas and Natalia Ramos; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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