The world needs a lot more copper and lithium for those electric vehicles we are all supposed to be driving soon. So, it’s an awkward time for the dominant copper-producing nation, and No. 2 in lithium, to lurch leftward politically.
That’s just what happened in Chile last month, when 35-year-old former campus activist Gabriel Boric was elected president. Boric ran on higher taxes and tighter environmental controls for the mining industry, and vague promises of a post-resource-dependent Chile. “Some of his circle have fundamental questions about what they call extractivism,” says Brian Winter, vice president for policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
Their encounter with an economy that has banked on low-tax extractivism to become the richest in Latin America starts when Boric takes office March 11.