Chile is the second least affected country in Latin America by COVID-19, according to the Economic Comission for Latin America and The Carribean (ECLAC). According to the organization, poverty at the national level went from 10.7% in 2017 to 10.9% in 2020. Meanwhile, according to the agency's estimates, extreme poverty would have increased by 1.4% to 1.6%.
The fiscal cost of the pension reform would be around $4.5 billion by 2030, according to projections of the Ministry of Finance. The reform plans to expand the coverage of the Solidarity Pillar from 60% to 80% of Chile's pensioners, which would benefit more than 2 million people.
Chile made the second issuance of sovereign green bonds in an operation for an approximate amount of $1,180 million, which considered the portfolio of projects recently certified by the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI). The 2021 project portfolio, for a total of approximately $369 million, includes initiatives related to clean transportation; renewable energy projects in vulnerable sectors; projects dependent on the Ministry of Public Works and Green Buildings whose Technical Unit is the Architecture Department.
Chile’s Patagonia National Park is set to undergo significant improvements, with funding from the Aysén regional government. The investment of 4 billion pesos ($5.6 million) will allow for the construction of a visitor centre near the Cueva de las Manos, improvement of trails within the park and of roads that connect the area with gateway communities, and other projects, all of which will benefit not only conservation but also nearby towns.
Albemarle Corp has accused a Chilean regulator of “unjust” discrimination for refusing to make public a key report on the impact of mining on the Atacama salt flat, according to court filings. Albemarle in July 2020 asked to see the publicly funded report but regulator Corfo rejected the request after Chilean miner SQM objected on grounds it contained confidential information. A government watchdog upheld the decision. Both Albemarle and SQM contributed data to the report. However, while SQM’s contract with the government allows it to review and comment on the study, Albemarle’s agreement does not.
Chilean miner SQM posted record lithium sales in the last quarter of 2020, although floundering prices for the ultralight metal continued to weigh on the company's profits. SQM said its lithium sales volumes in the fourth quarter jumped 50% from the previous quarter, hitting a three-month record of more than 25,000 tonnes. However, prices stagnated at $5,300 per tonne.
Spanish renewable energy company Ibereólica has submitted a proposal to build a 1.17 GW hybrid wind-solar power plant to Chile's environmental evaluation service SEA. The ERNC Antofagasta project, which is being planned by Ibereólica ERNC Antofagasta, a special purpose vehicle company owned by Ibereólica, will consist of a 496 MW wind farm and a 675 MW solar PV plant.
The government will introduce a series of changes to the pension reform being discussed in Congress, which was approved by the Senate Labour Committee. President Piñera explained that one of the changes is that the government intends to increase the Solidarity Pillar from 60% to 80% of the population.
Chile's state-owned Codelco said it would permanently incorporate teleworking into its shift schedule after months of experimenting with the model during the coronavirus pandemic. The company has sent approximately 2,700 employees home to work remotely. The company said it would roll out a hybrid model for some of its employees, beginning in the small Gabriel Mistral division and then to its flagship El Teniente mine and beyond.
Chile’s housing market is slowing rapidly due to the pandemic. The average price of new apartments in Greater Santiago rose by 1.7% during 2020, sharply down from the previous year’s 7.32% growth. Yet on a quarterly basis, house prices increased 3.98% in Q4 2020. Demand and supply are falling sharply. During 2020, new home sales in Greater Santiago area plummeted by 28.2% y-o-y to 22,672 units, following a 6.9% decline in 2019, according to the Chilean Chamber of Construction (CChC).