Sept 14 (Reuters) - Chile's congress is studying a proposal for an additional royalty payment for copper and lithium miners operating in the country to bolster the development of the regions around their deposits, according to a draft seen by Reuters.
The initiative, which was put forward by opposition legislators from mining areas and does not have government backing, proposes a 3 percent tax on the nominal value of extracted metals and would apply to copper miners producing more than 12,000 tonnes of copper a year and 50,000 tonnes of lithium.
"The payments must be made annually by the respective miners, for the life of existing mines and in the case of those not yet operational, from the start of extraction to its completion," the draft said.
It was sent on Thursday evening to the mines and energy committee of the country's house of representatives, but support for it remains in question since it was put forward by lawmakers from a number of small parties pushing for Chile's decentralization. It is not thought to have the backing of the government or larger opposition parties.
In 2010, Chile's government raised mining royalties from between 4 and 5 percent to 4 percent to 9 percent of mining sales on a sliding scale, rising to 5 to 14 percent starting in 2018. The law change was aimed at raising revenues to help the country rebuild after a devastating earthquake in February 2010.
Chile is the world's biggest copper producer and an important producer of lithium, demand for which is growing.
Mining companies operating in Chile include BHP Billiton Ltd , Glencore Plc, Anglo American Plc, Antofagasta Plc, SQM SA and Albemarle Corp (Reporting by Fabian Cambero; writing by Aislinn Laing Editing by Susan Thoms)