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Tía María copper project gaining legitimacy in Peru: exec

Carlos Aranda, Southern’s Manager of Technical Services. Photo from Instituto de Ingenieros de Minas del Perú’s Facebook page.

Southern Copper’s Manager of Technical Services, Carlos Aranda, said this week that the $1.4 billion Tía María copper project, located in the southern Peruvian region of Arequipa, is gaining legitimacy amongst the population.

In a conference held before Peru’s Mining Engineers Institute, Aranda said that the company, a subsidiary of Grupo México, has been able to knock down previous resistance from local communities.

The executive said that people living in villages adjacent to the mine have seen how the province of Islay can benefit from the miner’s social responsibility projects and, therefore, are now in favour of the plan. The Arizona-based firm financed pre-investment and investment studies for the construction of two hospitals and a clean water plant in the area.

The Tía María plan, however, has been halted and readjusted twice since it first came up, around 2010, due to fierce opposition by locals who were worried about its environmental impacts and the possibility of an open-pit mine damaging crops.

Even though Aranda said that people are more willing to support Tía María now, according to La República newspaper, activists argue that his words have no base in reality. They say that the Tambo Valley “is not for sale.”

But the representative for the world’s fifth largest producer of the red metal in terms of output said that, when it comes to moving forward the project, the company does not want to engage with activists but with the residents themselves to avoid miscommunication problems.

Carlos Aranda added that Southern Copper (NYSE:SCCO) expects Tía María to receive its construction permit this year so that it can be up and running by 2020. The mine is forecast to produce 120,000 tonnes of copper a year for an estimated 20-year lifespan.