Protests in Peru affecting transport of copper concentrate from Las Bambas

Las Bambas open pit. (Image courtesy of MMG).

Politically-driven protests and a general strike taking place in Peru’s Challhuahuacho district are hindering the transport of copper concentrate and personnel from and to MMG’s Las Bambas mine.

The strike was launched on November 30th by the district’s Farmers Federation, the Defense Front and the Youth Federation. They demand that the national government complies with Supreme Decree N° 005-2016-PCM, which sets as a priority Challhuahuacho’s economic and social development, and the payment of a mining canon starting in 2021. 

The mining canon comprises 50% of the corporate income tax collected from mining firms by the national government and should be transferred to provincial and district municipalities where extractive operations take place.

MMG said that Las Bambas has nothing to do with the protesters’ claims

In demanding their town’s right to the canon, the protesters set up blockades in the Ranra sector, the Quehuira community and the Manantiales community, which are strategic points in the national corridor used by Las Bambas to transport its product and receive supplies.

The activists demand a meeting with MMG Las Bambas’ general manager and the president of the minister’s council, Violeta Bermúdez, to start negotiating an end to their actions. 

However, in a communiqué sent out to the El Comercio newspaper, MMG said that Las Bambas has nothing to do with the protesters’ claims, as they are to be dealt with by the Peruvian government and the Challhuahuacho district.  

The company also said that the strike is having an impact on the royalties that it pays to the regional and municipal governments, as well as to local universities. 

Given this situation, both local and provincial authorities have reached out to their national counterparts asking for the installation of a round table where the issues at hand can be discussed.  

The protesters have said that, unless there is a serious commitment on such a round table being set up and Minister Bermúdez visiting the region and listening to their demands in person, the blockades will continue. 

Las Bambas is the world’s ninth-largest copper mine. For 2020, it was expected to produce between 350,000 and 370,000 tonnes of copper concentrate or about 2% of the global projected production. However, back in April, MMG withdrew the mine’s guidance due to the covid-19 pandemic and did not provide new full-year output guidance.