Peru's illegal miners protests on hold after three died yesterday

Thousands of informal miners suspended their indefinite protest in the gold-rich Peru’s Madre de Dios region after three people were killed in clashes with police yesterday.

According to State-run Andina news agency, illegal miners’ representatives have agreed to meet with government officials on Monday.

"We are open to discussions … and we will search for a solution," union leader Luis Otzuka said, reports Andina.

Informal miners have been protesting since beginning of March, demanding the government to revoke a new decree that regularizes small-scale and artisanal operations.

Under the new regulation, miners operating deposit illegally or breaking environmental rules now face up to 10 years in prison.

President of the Madre de Dios chamber of commerce, Roman Meza, said earlier last week that the demonstration was causing Peru loses of  about US$560,000 a day.

“All businesses have been forced to close. Police surveillance is limited. The two most important markets have been closed. The miners threatened to take over the main road which would worsen the situation much more,” said Meza last week.

The polemic new law establishes a system to control and monitor chemical inputs used in illegal mining activities. It involves the involvement of a few state institutions. Tax agency Sunat will control tax and customs aspects; energy and mining investment regulator Osinergmin will oversee fuel sales, and production ministry will control chemical inputs.

The regulation also involves the armed forces and the public prosecutor’s office contribution.

According to Peruvian Times, illegal mining in the conflict area involves about 30,000 people, who earn more than five times the national minimum wage.

(Photo: Screenshot of a TV report showing Peruvian police throwing tear gas bombs at miners)