Following Friday’s attack that set on fire a worker housing area, Glencore announced that it has halted operations at the Antapaccay copper mine in southern Peru.
In a media statement, the company said that yesterday’s incidents endangered the safety of its employees and, therefore, authorities should start taking action to safeguard people’s integrity and private property rights.
According to the Swiss miner, a group of citizens from the Espinar province, where Antapaccay is located, arrived at the site Friday noon and demanded that operations be stopped and that the firm issue a communiqué asking for the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.
Next, some of the people forced their entry into different mine facilities, stole workers’ belongings, and set the housing area on fire. Two and a half hours later, the protesters left the site.
“The emergency and security teams are working to guarantee the safety of the employees that remain in the operation, as well as to extinguish the fires. So far no injuries have been reported,” the press release states.
Prior to this incident, Glencore’s mine, one of the country’s largest, was operating only with 38% of its workforce due to protests. Less than a week ago, activists broke into Antapaccay’s water plant and set the facility on fire. The plant provides drinking water to over 6,000 people in nearby communities.
Given the number of attacks that have taken place in the first half of January, which also include roadblocks, the mine halted the shipping of copper concentrate. MMG’s Las Bambas, which shares with Antapaccay the same highway access to ports, followed suit.
Unrest has rattled Peru since the ouster and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo late last year. Protest leaders are demanding a general election.
According to Bloomberg, the disruption is threatening to choke off access to almost $4 billion worth of red metal.
This comes at a particularly precarious moment for copper markets as inventories stand at historically low levels while miners warn demand is poised to skyrocket with the growing electrification of vehicles.