Nexa Resources halts Peru zinc mine due to blockade

The Atacocha mine is in the province of Pasco, Peru. (Image courtesy of Nexa Resources.)

Latin America-focused Nexa Resources (NYSE: NEXA) has halted production at its Atacocha San Gerardo open pit zinc mine in Peru due to a road blockade by the Joraoniyoc community since earlier this week.

The zinc producer, controlled by Brazilian holding company Votorantim SA, said the obstruction of the road to access the mine has not had a material impact on Atacocha’s production to date.

Mine production has been suspended, and activities are limited to critical operations with a minimum workforce to ensure proper maintenance, Nexa said.

On a weekly basis, the Atacocha mine produces about 200 tonnes of zinc, which is less than 3% of the company’s total zinc production, it said.

Mining conflicts in Peru have risen over the past two years as empowered local communities increased demands under the administration of leftist ex-President Pedro Castillo, who was impeached in December 2022 and replaced by vice president Dina Boluarte.

Nexa itself has faced three recent road blockades at Atacocha. The first one, in March 2022, cost the miner 300 tonnes of lost zinc production. It was also affected by another blockage in August the same year, and in January 2023.

Nexa has nine operations distributed between Brazil and Peru – three of which are refineries and six mines. including the largest underground zinc mine in Peru, Cerro Lindo, and the largest zinc refinery in the Americas, Cajamarquilla.

Peru is the world’s no. 2 copper producer after Chile and an important producer of zinc.