Protest ends at MMG’s Las Bambas copper mine in Peru, exports to resume

Las Bambas mine is set to deliver 400,000 tonnes of copper per year during the first five years of production, placing Peru within the top three copper mines globally. (Image courtesy of MMG)

Copper exports from MMG’s giant Las Bambas mine in Peru, which came online this year, are set to resume later this month or early November after a 10-day stoppage caused by protests against the operation came to and on Monday, the company said.

“The Government of Peru and local communities have agreed a framework for future dialogue and cooperation in the region,” MMG said in the statement. “The process of restoring calm in local communities and the re-opening of essential infrastructure is now underway.”

Copper exports from Las Bambas have driven economic growth in Peru as domestic demand remains weak.

The miner also said it expects key road transport logistics to be restored progressively via an alternate route and people and supplies have begun to again move freely on local roads.

Concentrate trucking, in turn, is expected to resume progressively in the coming days, MMG said.

The news comes as supplies needed to keep operations at Las Bambas, one of the world’s largest copper mines, were about to run out because of the main access roads being blocked by protesters.

The several thousand people that held the demonstration were objecting against ongoing noise and high levels of dust close to the road used by trucks that carry the Chinese-owned mine’s copper concentrates. The protests led to clashes with police that culminated in one of the protesters being shot by police.

Interior Minister Carlos Basombrío said the victim died from a bullet wound to the head, presumably fired by Peruvian police while they attempted to disperse more than 200 protesters who had blocked an access road to the mine, the country’s largest copper operation.

The government has now launched an internal probe to determine who authorized police intervention.

Las Bambas produced 35,000 tonnes of the red metal in August, or almost a fifth of Peru’s overall output, official data shows. The operation is set to deliver 400,000 tonnes of copper per year during the first five years of production.