Candente Copper Corp. (TSX:DNT) will be allowed to resume its exploration and feasibility drilling at its Canariaco project in Peru, after the local community of San Juan De Kañaris voted in favour of granting surface access to the company on Sunday.
In May, as explained by Candente, the community had granted the Toronto-based copper miner access for all exploration activities except drilling.
The company, which tabled the proposal for community review two weeks ago, was awaiting the water permit for drilling from the National Water Authority. However, crews and equipment were being prepared for immediate mobilization in the interim.
"We are obviously very pleased with the positive decision made by the community yesterday," said Joanne Freeze, CEO.
She added the decision represents a “very big step forward” for both Candente and Peruvians.
Candente Copper's flagship project is the 100% owned, Cañariaco Norte Copper Project located in northern Peru's prolific mining district. The mine, currently in its feasibility stage, contains a measured and indicated resource of 752.4 million tonnes grading 0.49% copper equivalent, and an inferred resource of 157.7 million tonnes at 0.44% copper equivalent.
The Canadian company is one of the very few not experiencing some sort of opposition from the local communities in Peru.
Protests against Newmont Mining's Conga project in the Cajamarca region got uglier over the weekend, with at least five journalists attacked and injured during funerals held on Saturday.
Xstrata is another miner facing strong opposition in the South American country. Last month, Peruvian authorities met with representatives of the town of Espinar in southern Peru, to resolve a conflict between the community and Xstrata’s Tintaya copper mine, which they accuse of polluting their land and water supplies.
All over the country, underprivileged residents claim they don’t see the benefits of the country's mining profits coming from foreign firms.
$50 billion jeopardized
When Peru’s President Ollanta Humala was elected a year ago, he promised to solve the ongoing disputes among mining companies, the government and local communities. But the conflicts, which left 190 people dead during the preceding administration, continue to outshine the potential benefits that mining investment can bring to the country.
The $50 billion in investments forecasted for the next five years, according to most analysts, is starting to fall.
Canada’s Scotiabank states that, of the projects that account for over 85% of the planned spending in the Peruvian mining industry, 11 face social struggles.
Peru is the world's second biggest producer of copper and silver and a major producer of gold, zinc and lead. The country’s extractive sector accounts for 60% of the economy.