Even as copper prices hit a ten-year high this week, political events in Chile — the world’s main producer — have raised questions about whether the country will be able to continue meeting rising demand. A surge on infrastructure spending in industrialized countries, a weak dollar, and strong demand in China boosted the price of the metal to over $10,000 per ton on Thursday. As the global economy starts to shake off the impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic and makers of electric cars and renewable energy systems clamor for the red metal, Chile stands to gain handsomely. But political uncertainties in the South American nation have some worried. “In recent days there has been more international awareness and more concern” about what is happening in Chile, Juan Carlos Guajardo, director of mining consultancy Plusmining, told AFP. “There is a conjunction of elements that are making investors adopt a more cautious position,” he added. Just two years after massive civil unrest over income inequality triggered a project to rewrite Chile’s constitution, the country has recently again seen widespread protests. This time, it was to force the government to allow people to make a partial withdrawal from pension funds to help them through pandemic-induced financial hardship. Santiago gave in — allowing the third withdrawal in nine months in a move that may alleviate short-term pain but observers say could threaten longer-term financial stability. Two taxes Port workers called a strike in support of the action with the backing of mining unions, raising supply fears which contributed to the price surge. Apart from social and labor unrest, investors are also concerned about a proposed new mining tax and possible regulatory changes in the process of drafting the new constitution. Chile’s Congress is considering a leftist bill to impose an additional tax on mining to finance social plans. If it passes “there would be two taxes (on mining), which would be a not insignificant burden” on investors, said Guajardo. “We would be entering difficult terrain for the mining industry.” He added the pending constitutional change will “generate uncertainty, and will probably have an impact on investment” in Chile. Claudio Loser of the Centennial Group consultancy — a former boss of the IMF’s Americas department — agreed the project to change Chile’s founding law makes it “very difficult to know what will happen” to the future of copper production.