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Nexa Resources halts Peruvian 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 its Atacocha San Gerardo open pit zinc mine in Peru due to a road blockade by a local community.

The zinc producer, controlled by Brazilian holding company Votorantim SA, called the disruption “illegal” and said that activities are limited to critical operations with a minimum workforce to ensure proper maintenance.

A March road blockade at the same mine cost the miner 300 tonnes of lost zinc production, but it did not affect its full-year 2022 zinc production guidance.

Nexa said the fresh obstruction to transport and supplies in and out the mine is not expected to impact its forecast zinc output of 118,000-127,000 tonnes for this year.

On a weekly basis, Atacocha produces approximately 200,000 tonnes of zinc — less than 3% of Nexa’s zinc production.

The company noted that is in talks with the San Juan de Milpo community and authorities to reach an agreement.

Mining conflicts are on the rise in Peru, the world’s No. 2 copper producer and an important producer of zinc, as empowered local communities are upping demands under the administration of leftist President Pedro Castillo, in power since July 2021.

Earlier this year, a wave of protests hit Peru’s major operations, including Glencore’s (LON: GLEN) Antapaccay, the country’s sixth largest copper mine. Other operations affected were Southern Copper Corp’s Cuajone mine and MMG’s giant Las Bambas mine, which is the nation’s fourth-largest copper mine and the world’s ninth-largest.

Nexa currently owns and operates five underground mines — three located in the Central Andes of Peru and two located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

The company is developing the Aripuanã project as its sixth underground mine in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

It also owns and operates three smelters, two located in Brazil and one in Peru, Cajamarquilla, which is the largest in the Americas.

Nexa was among the world’s top five zinc miners and was also one of the top five metallic zinc producers in 2021, according to Wood Mackenzie.