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Miner saga boosts Chile's Pinera, may help royalty bill

* Higher approval seen boosting bid to raise mining tax

* Chileans liked Pinera’s handling of trapped miner saga

SANTIAGO, Sept. 1 (Reuters) - Chilean President Sebastian Pinera’s approval rating surged to a new high in August for his efforts to rescue 33 miners still trapped but alive weeks after a cave-in, and it could help him push through a mining royalty hike.

A new survey by pollster Adimark GfK showed Pinera’s approval rating rose to 56 percent in August, up 10 percentage points from a previous poll in July -- the conservative billionaire’s highest rating since he took office in March.

Images of the miners, bearded after nearly a month stuck 2,300 ft (700 metres) underground, their torsos bared to cope with heat, have captivated world attention, and Pinera moved fast to pledge reforms to mining safety in the world’s No.1 copper producer. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ > For a TAKE-A-LOOK on miner rescue bid [ID:nN22135549] > Chile bill ups royalty to 5-9 pct from 2018 [ID:nN31241436] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

The jump in approval could give Pinera’s government the upper hand in its push to pass a mining royalty overhaul through the opposition-led Congress.

The bill, revised and resent to Congress this week after the royalty was rejected by center-left opponents in July, calls for higher levies from global miners like BHP Billiton BHP.AXBLT.L and Xstrata XTA.L. [ID:nN31241436]

Pinera, who has angered mining companies with his proposal, expects the new royalty scheme to raise around $1 billion over the next three years to help finance rebuilding of cities ravaged by a massive Feb. 27 earthquake.

The poll had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points and interviewed 1,315 people in the country’s main cities. (Editing by Alonso Soto and Jerry Norton)