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Peruvian authorities search for solutions to blockade affecting shipments from Las Bambas copper mine

Las Bambas copper operation. Photo by MMG.

Peru’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Francisco Ísmodes, and the Vice-Minister of Territorial Governance, Raúl Molina, held a meeting this weekend with the Cusco Regional Governor, Jean Paul Benavente, where they addressed the situation regarding a blockade affecting Las Bambas copper mine.

For 48 days now, the Indigenous community of Nueva Fuerabamba has blocked Chinese miner MMG Ltd from using a national highway called Corredor Minero del Sur (Mining Runway of the South), which passes through its farmland. According to Reuters, local people say the government illegally turned the road into a national highway to be able to ink a deal with the Asian company.

While the company says it is willing to establish a dialogue with the protesters, the situation has kept going for so long that the government officials decided to intervene. On Monday, they plan to visit the southern-central region of Apurímac and meet with residents of Nueva Fuerabamba to try to find a solution.

According to local media, authorities want to mediate between both parties to promote an understanding and guide the resettlement process that MMG, which is controlled by state-owned China Minmetals Corporation, has said it could finance.

But as this weekend’s meeting was taking place, people of Nueva Fuerabamba protested in Cusco. They were demanding the release of their leader, Gregorio Rojas, who is being held at the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the National Police, accused of alleged extortion against Las Bambas mining company.

For the time being, MMG is using an alternate route to get its copper concentrates from the massive Las Bambas mine, which produced some 385,000 tonnes of copper last year, to the port of Matarani for shipment.