Mining protests turn deadly in Peru

Protests at MMG’s Las Bambas mine in Peru resulted in four fatalities and 16 people seriously injured yesterday, said the company in statement.

A state of emergency has been imposed at the Apurimac region near the Las Bambas Project. The government has sent army and police to the region to restore order.

Las Bambas is a multi-billion dollar mining project at an advanced stage of production. The company says that Las Bambas is expected to be one of the top three copper producing mines in the world and is currently one of the largest copper projects in construction on a copper resource basis.

The company said tensions are still high. Changes to the environmental plans have angered protesters. Apurímac regional president Wilber Venegas told BNA what is upsetting some residents:

The local population objects to China Minmetals’ decision to scrap a mineral slurry pipeline and build a molybdenum plant in Apurímac instead of in Cusco, Venegas said. Under Peruvian law, changes in previously approved environmental impact studies don’t require additional public hearings.

“These people fear there will be environmental damages in their area, and the information hasn’t been properly communicated,” Venegas told reporters in Lima. “The government needs to form a high-level delegation to go to the area and solve these problems.”

MMG Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Michelmore said the company is working with residents.

“Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of the people located at the site and the local community, as well securing the site itself. As a result, late stage commissioning activities are now suspended.

“Clearly our preference is for those organising these protests to stop the violence, respect the orders of the military and police and to speak with us.

“The Las Bambas team has maintained positive dialogue with the Cotabambas and Grau communities of Apurimac over close to ten years of project development.”

MMG is a Chinese owned company. It purchased the Las Bambas project from Glencore plc in August 2014.

Las Bambas is located in Peru, 4km NW of Chahuahuacho District. Image courtesy of IntelligenceMine.