(Bloomberg) — Environmental activists like Constanza San Juan have been peripheral figures at best in Chile’s emergence as the dominant supplier of copper over the past few decades. Now, she and others like her are rewriting the rules, with tens of billions of dollars in investments riding on the outcome.
The 35 year old, who’s been fighting mining ever since Barrick Gold Corp. arrived to her region two decades ago, is on a committee that will decide how the environment and natural resources will figure in a new constitution to replace the one that dates back to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
“We need to completely change the extractivist model to one that is in harmony with nature,” San Juan said in an interview, vowing not to meet with lobbyists during the process. “Changes must be done in the spirit of what started this whole movement to transform Chile. Mining has brought nothing but poverty.”
Deliberations will begin in earnest early next year, with members likely to be emboldened by Sunday’s election of the most left-leaning president since Salvador Allende. Proposals range from setting time limits on concessions to banning mines altogether under some conditions.
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