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By Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Chile's Senate on Tuesday pushed forward discussion over a controversial bill to increase royalty payments from mining companies that operate in the world's largest copper producer, a legislation being backed by opposition lawmakers.
The Senate approved by 18 votes in favor, versus 16 against, to continue making modifications to the bill, which was previously passed by the lower Chamber of Deputies in May.
"I am voting in favor of the royalty bill and I have no doubt that in the weeks that remain where we are going to set the deadline for the presentation of amendments to improve this bill," said center-left senator Yasna Provoste.
The mining industry has strongly opposed the idea of raising the tax burden, arguing it is already at its limit, and has said the bill could push some firms out of business.
Deputies of some parties on the opposition left have proposed increasing the levy to boost tax collection, which they say is key to funding more social initiatives as the Andean country rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic.
The discussion come with the global price of the red metal near decade-long highs.
Chile's copper sector is dominated by state mining giant Codelco, along with multinational firms such as BHP, Anglo American, Glencore, Antofagasta and Freeport. (Reporting by Fabián Andrés Cambero; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Lincoln Feast)