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Chile's president brings back Williams as Mining Minister in Cabinet reshuffle

Aurora Williams

Aurora Williams

17th August 2023

By: Reuters

  

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SANTIAGO - Chilean President Gabriel Boric on Wednesday named Aurora Williams his new mining minister as he reshuffled his cabinet and looked to push through reforms to increase state income from mining in the world's largest copper producing nation.

Williams, who will replace Marcela Hernando, held the same position during the 2014-18 administration of former President Michelle Bachelet.

"I invite the ministers to consolidate our national lithium policy and to continue to maintain Chile's global mining leadership," Boric said in a ceremony, highlighting the mining industry's role in reducing poverty and inequality.

"I would have liked this cabinet change to take place in a different political climate," he added, calling on political parties to resume talks over proposed tax and pension reforms.

Chile's mining sector is seeing a dramatic overhaul since the government announced a plan in April to boost state control of the country's vast lithium reserves, seen as key to the transition away from fossil fuels.

Boric has suffered major legislative defeats in Congress, though his lithium reform largely does not require legislative approval. Talks with private lithium miners are set to be led by state miner Codelco.

Codelco has faced months of declining copper output and warned that 2023 output would be lower than expected, citing weather and operational problems.

UPHILL BATTLE
Boric has said he will send new bills to reform Chile's tax system, but would not insist on an original reform rejected last March. The government also faces a battle to push through a pension reform, which Congress will vote on next month.

In his third cabinet reshuffle, Boric also named new ministers of culture, education, national assets and social development.

Social development was previously headed by Giorgio Jackson, who resigned last Friday after accusations that members of his party were involved in a scandal involving multimillion-dollar transfers of public funds.

Jackson will be replaced by Chile's National Assets Minister Javiera Toro.

Nicolas Cataldo, who previously worked in regional development, will replace Marco Antonio Avila to oversee the education sector, which is still suffering from fallout of extensive school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Edited by Reuters

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