Southern Copper’s Tia Maria safe for the environment — Peru minister

Southern Copper’s Tia Maria safe for the environment — Peru minister

Southern Copper’s Tia Maria copper project, located in Arequipa, Peru.

Southern Copper’s (NYSE, LON: SCCO) on-again, off-again $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper project in Peru, won’t hurt water supplies as opponents claim, the country’s Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said Friday.

According to the state-run news agency Andina (in Spanish), the authority said the miner’s newest environmental impact assessment proves "there is no (foreseeable) chance that mining waste can ever reach nearby water supplies, particularly the Tambo River.”

For years protesters have marched and blocked highways in opposition to the proposed mine, arguing it could hurt key waterways for Arequipa, where the project is located.

In response, Southern Copper, one of the world’s biggest producers, has reworked its project several times to gain approval. The goal was finally reached in August last year, with the Peruvian government declaring the miner’s EIA complied with all the demands brought forward by locals and environmentalists.

"Anti-mining Terrorism"

Fresh demonstrations at the end of March pushed Southern Copper’s spokesman in Peru, Julio Morriberon, declare the company was cancelling the project, as it has grown tired of ongoing “anti-mining terrorism” in the area.

Southern Copper’s Tia Maria safe for the environment — Peru ministerChief Executive Officer Oscar Gonzalez Rocha, however, promptly dismissed such comments, telling Bloomberg the company would use “its greatest efforts” to advance the debated project.

Southern Copper estimates that Tia Maria will produce 120,000 tons of copper cathodes a year, for an estimated 20-year lifespan.

Peru’s government forecasts the country will produce 2.8 million tons of copper a year by 2016, about double its current production as a number of new projects come on stream.

Image from archives.