The Committee of Ministers has recently rejected the Dominga mining and port project in the IV Region, which has caused concern and uncertainty in the industry.

The project is worth US$2,500M and is owned by Andes Iron. It entailed constructing two open pit mines to extract 12 million tons of iron and 150 thousand tons of copper concentrate, and included a new port to load the material.

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Dominga would have generated around 10,000 jobs during construction and 1,500 when it started operating, but in the opinion of the Committee of Ministers the initiative will create mitigation, compensation and reparation problems in the area.

After three and a half years of evaluation, the Coquimbo Environmental Assessment Commission issued its opposition to this project last March, on the grounds that it did not take into account the health risks to inhabitants in neighboring communities.

Also, environmentalists indicated the risk of irreparable damage to the local ecosystem, as it is located 30km from the Humboldt Penguin Reserve. Andes Iron indicated in its defense that approximately 1,600 ships sail past the Reserve every year without any kind of restriction, while the Dominga port would only receive 56 ships.

Mr. Marcelo Mena, Environment Minister, said «we do not object to economic development nor projects that are necessary for the country’s growth, but they must appropriately resolve their negative effects.»

The project rejection uncovered division in the Government and resulted in Cabinet changes. Mr. Rodrigo Valdés, Finance Minister, Mr. Alejandro Micco, Deputy Secretary at the Treasury, and Mr. Luis Felipe Céspedes, Economy Minister, all resigned their positions. The former Deputy Secretary at the Treasury, Mr. Alejandro Micco, mentioned that «hasty decisions have been taken (…) we did not take sufficient time to evaluate the importance of a well-balanced investment with sustainable development.»

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