With the world’s eyes on Chile’s rescue of 33 trapped miners, one person has emerged as an unexpected winner: mining minister Laurence Golborne.

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With the world’s eyes on Chile’s rescue of 33 trapped miners, one person has emerged as an unexpected winner: mining minister Laurence Golborne, whose work as the public face of the rescue effort has quickly made him the country’s most popular political figure and a possible presidential candidate.

The public affection for Golborne popped up from nowhere. In July, a monthly poll testing ministers’ popularity found him to have the lowest name recognition in President Sebastian Piñera’s cabinet. He was familiar to the financial world from his years running the country’s biggest retailer, the Cencosud conglomerate of big box stores, supermarkets and consumer finance. But he was invisible to the general public: only 14 per cent of Chileans knew his name.

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