Chile, Biggest Copper Producer, Approves Mine Tax

Bloomberg.com: Latin America May 19

Chile, the world’s biggest copper producer, approved a tax increase on miners, taking advantage of a surge in demand for the metal to boost government revenue.

A bill on the levy, which taxes miners’ operating income by as much as 5 percent, passed the lower house of Congress last night, following approval in the Senate, according to the lower house’s Web site. The new tax will make mining in Chile costlier for such companies as Phelps Dodge Corp., the world’s second- biggest copper producer, and BHP Billiton Plc, the largest miner.

“We’re charging companies for using a non-renewable resource as mining countries across the world do,” Jaime Gazmuri, vice president of the Senate, said in a telephone interview. “We need these funds for research to become a more developed economy.”

The government said that the tax, part of which will be used for research and development, will help the country prepare for the time its copper deposits run out. Miners such as Antofagasta Plc, which produces about 10 percent of the nation’s copper, said that the tax discriminates against the industry and will make Chile less attractive for investment.

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