Latin America

Chile’s copper plant closure sets up clash between environmental and economic concerns

Miners and truckers go on strike after President Gabriel Boric announces the shutdown of a copper-smelting plant, following decades of concerns over pollution

Codelco's copper-smelting plant. Photo: Felipe Fredes Fernandez/Shutterstock
Codelco’s copper-smelting plant. Photo: Felipe Fredes Fernandez/Shutterstock

Environmental consciousness is growing among Latin American governments, with the recently elected left-wing administrations of Gabriel Boric in Chile and Gustavo Petro in Colombia promising unprecedented measures against extractive industries.

However, putting these ideas into practice is likely to prove a massive challenge, given how deeply intertwined modern economies are with polluting or otherwise environmentally harmful activities. 

Around the world, from China to the U.S., this tension is evident. Policymakers may show concern for the environment, but they are also faced with the complex dynamics of business and the lives of those whose labor is tied to old...

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