About 3,000 workers laid off at Peru’s Las Bambas as mine shutdown drags on

Las Bambas is one of the world’s largest copper mines. Credit: MMG.

About 3,000 workers have been laid off in Peru due to the suspension of operations at MMG’s Las Bambas copper mine, which has dragged on for over 40 days, a mining union said on Thursday as workers took to the streets to protest.

Las Bambas, one of the world’s largest copper mines, was forced to halt operations in April due to protests from neighboring indigenous communities in the Peruvian Andes, two of which entered company property and held a sit-in protest at the mine, triggering the shutdown.

Erick Ramos, the president of the union, said in a letter to the government seen by Reuters, that the 3,000 workers all work for contractors that provide services to Las Bambas. It added that “hundreds” of direct mine employees have also been furloughed.

On Thursday morning, hundreds took to the streets in Lima, with satellite protests taking place in the cities of Cuzco and Arequipa. This is the union’s second protest since the mine’s stoppage.

Reuters images showed marchers waving the red and white Peruvian flag and holding up signs, which read: “We demand a solution” and “we want to work.”

MMG employs about 2,700 people directly in Peru and a further 6,000 people through third-party companies, according to corporate disclosures.

These “labor measures will keep worsening due to the continuing social conflict,” Ramos said in the letter.

The government of left-wing President Pedro Castillo has repeatedly tried and failed to broker a truce between the protesting indigenous groups – who demand better community redistribution of mining profits – and the mine’s management, which could allow for a restart of operations.

Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer and mining is a key source of tax revenue.

(By Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Aurora Ellis)


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