Chile preparing to change permitting process

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chile's government is putting together a cross-sector committee to study changes to the country's environmental impact evaluation system (SEIA), which formed part of President Michelle Bachelet's campaign platform.

The move, to be led by the environment ministry, is aimed at defining proposals to improve environmental permitting and reduce the amount of projects being challenged in court.

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Invitations have already been sent to experts to take part in the committee, which is expected to be officially announced in March, according to local newspaper Pulso. Those invited so far reportedly include representatives from the mining council, generators association, construction chamber CChC, industrial association Sofofa and private mining industry association Sonami, as well as environment and sustainability experts.

Chilean environmental authorities, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society, recently launched a biodiversity compensation guide, which suggests seven stages to design and implement a compensation plan to help companies mitigate, repair and compensate for the effects of projects entering the SEIA.

A number of mining and energy projects have been halted by legal challenges in the supreme court during the environmental evaluation process, or even after securing a permit, including Pascua Lama, El Morro, Punta Alcalde, Barrancones, Castilla and Río Cuervo.