Mining investment worth $50 billion in the balance as Peruvian lawmakers quit

Three lawmakers from President Ollanta Humala’s ruling Gana Peru party resigned on Monday over the government’s handling of protests against Swiss based-Xstrata in southeastern Peru last week.

Rosa Mavila and Javier Diez-Canseco, key figures in left-wing politics, resigned, leaving  a letter addressed to Humala, which said the government had taken a “confrontational” stance against mining protesters, and rejected dialogue.

“Those who were defeated in the elections have become co-governors,” the legislators said, referring to Humala’s change in policy since taking office.

Minister of Economy, Luis Castilla, told local news outlet Peru 21 that social and environmental protests against mining in the country are threatening billions of dollars in planned mining exploration and project development in the Latin America’s biggest gold producer.

Currently the country is under a state of emergency, issued by the government last week, after two people were killed and dozens of police officers injured the violent anti-mining protests against Xstrata’s Tintaya mine late May.

This is the second time the Peruvian government issues a state of emergency in the last six month. The last time was in December, in an effort to quell protests against Newmont Mining’s Conga gold project that caused the company to halt its operations.

Other Canadian miners with operations in Peru include Barrick Gold Corp., Pan American Silver Corp., Hudbay Minerals Inc., First Quantum Minerals Ltd., Rio Alto Mining Ltd. and Candente Copper Corp.

Peru is the world’s second biggest producer of copper and silver and a major producer of gold, zinc, lead and other minerals. The country’s extractive sector, which accounts for some 60% of the economy, is expected to bring Peru $50 billion in future investment over the next decade.

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