Peruvians ask Washington-based human rights commission to halt Newmont’s Conga project

Farmers and indigenous people from northern Peru will travel to Washington next week to ask the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for help with forcing the Peruvian government to halt Newmont Mining’s (NYSE: NEM) $4.8 billion gold-copper Conga project in Peru, a community spokesman told AFP.

The group, which filed the petition in April last year, has been asked to appear on March 18 and 19 to provide an update on the Conga project, which they claim continues to advance despite being officially deemed as “suspended.”

The news comes on the heels on another complaint filed Monday by anti-mining activists accusing Peru's government of rights abuses during protests against the mining project.

The legal moves could further stall efforts to revive US-based Newmont’s project, which President Ollanta Humala's administration put on hold in August last year, after nine months of protests in the northern gold-rich region of Cajamarca.

In more than one opportunity, the violence surrounding those demonstrations forced the government to declare a state of emergency, with authorities blaming "extremists" for stirring up unrest and inciting violence for political gain.

Minas Conga is a joint project of Newmont Mining, which holds 51.35% interest in the venture, and Compañía de Minas Buenaventura, with a 43.65% stake.

The contentious Conga is set to begin production in early 2015, but it continues to be on hold until at least the end of this year. The mine is capable of producing up to 350,000 ounces of gold and 120 million pounds of copper per annum with a 19-year life of mine.

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