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As Peru’s cabinet deals with new crisis, 10-day blockade against Las Bambas expected to go on

(Reference image by the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines, Twitter).

Peru’s Southern Mining Corridor, a road used by MMG’s Las Bambas mine to transport copper onto a seaport, will remain closed until further notice, the four communities blocking the runway since January 26 said.

Speaking to local media, representatives from the Ccapacmarca, Sayhua, Huascabamba and Tahuay communities, all located in the southern Chumbivilcas province, said that they thought about halting the strike until the country’s new Premier takes over and gains a confidence vote in the parliament, following the resignation of Héctor Valer on February 4, 2022, only four days after being named prime minister. The idea, however, was quickly dismissed.

The leaders of the protest action pointed out that they are waiting for the Presidency of the Ministers’ Council (PCM) to give them a date to set up a dialogue table. Among other things, they want to discuss the resolution of a lawsuit they filed challenging the national highway status granted to the roadway used by the mine.

However, the PCM said in a letter that since the new cabinet has just been installed and the confidence vote still needs to happen, the request is for communities along the corridor to avoid radical actions and create a peaceful climate.  

In the meantime, it has been 10 days since Las Bambas was able to move copper concentrate out of the mine, stock on supplies and send home employees that were on duty when the blockade started.

The new protest takes place less than a month after the lifting of a month-long blockade that forced the giant copper mine to shut down from December 18 to December 31, when it was able to restart after a series of negotiations.

Blockades led by different communities along the road, frequently followed by shipment suspensions, have been a common issue affecting Las Bambas since its 2015-16 ramp-up and now total over 400 days of disruption, according to Reuters.

Las Bambas accounts for 2% of the world’s copper supply and produced 339,682 tonnes of the red metal and 249,767 tonnes of zinc in 2021.

Peru, on the other hand, is the world’s no. 2 copper producer.