Three communities in Chile’s High Valley of Salamanca remain in conflict with Antofagasta’s (LON: ANTO) Los Pelambres copper miner.
Protests started a couple of weeks ago, after a May 31st accident that involved a drop in pressure in the line of the concentrate transport system and a concentrate leak between kilometres 38 and 39 of the Salamanca district, near the town of Llimpo.
Even though earlier in the week the communities of Jorquera, Coirón and Punta Nueva cancelled their blockades after reaching indemnification agreements with Los Pelambres through a government-mediated process, the neighbouring communities of Tranquilla, Batuco and Cuncumén remain in a stand-off.
According to local media, community leaders are organizing a public meeting in the area where the blockade is taking place, as mediation attempts by both the presidential delegate Rubén Quezada and the regional governor Krist Naranjo did not succeed.
The local press also reports that the situation is causing concern among workers and subcontractors, as the mine employs close to 6,000 direct and indirect workers and is responsible for 30% of the Coquimbo region’s GDP.
In mid-June, Los Pelambres said that the roadblocks prevented normal traffic to and from the Chacay operation sites, which caused serious disruptions to the cleaning and repair work of the concentrate pipeline, as well as the movement of workers and supplies. This situation, in turn, forced more than 50 companies and 1,000 workers to demobilize.