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Newmont faces new protests in Peru as key report for $4.8 billion Conga project expected this week

Peru’s long-running Conga mine dispute is about to reach a turning point as international consultants appointed by the government in February finalize their report on the viability of proposed water for Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) and Buenaventura’s US$4.8 billion copper-gold project.

The independent review of the environmental impact study (EIS) for Conga was expected to be ready yesterday, but new protests in the region seemed to have delayed its release.

Over 200 people marched once again yesterday to protest against the proposed mine, which could be the largest single investment in Peruvian history.

Cajamarca’s Maoist governor Gregorio Santos, leader of the demonstrators, announced an indefinite strike in the area will start next Wednesday, provided that Conga mine gets the green light from President Ollanta Humala’s administration, informs La Tercera.

Newmont stopped construction in November last year, after violent protests in the northern Peru region.

In December, the government was forced to declare a state of emergency after boulders were used to block exits from the regional capital of more than 200,000 inhabitants, schools, hospitals and business were closed and dozens injured in clashes with police.

Opponents of the joint venture between Newmont and Buenaventura fear the Conga project will damage local lakes and taint water supplies. Conga would replace four lagoons with four engineered reservoirs, which Newmont said would increase existing water storage capacity from 1.4 million cubic metres to 3.2 million cubic metres.