Peru cabinet seeks solution for Las Bambas crisis as leftists urge nationalization

Credit: Pedro Castillo’s Twitter page

Peru’s Cabinet was meeting on Friday to try and find a truce to the ongoing conflict that has paralyzed operations at MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine, as some left-wing lawmakers suggest nationalizing the company would be the solution.

Operations at Las Bambas, one of the world’s largest copper mines, have been at a standstill since April 20 by protesting members of the indigenous Huancuire community that has settled inside company property.

Late on Thursday, left-wing lawmakers from the ruling Peru Libre party presented a bill to nationalize copper production in Peru, the world’s No. 2 copper producer, including troubled Las Bambas. The bill is unlikely to go through in the current conservative-led Congress.

Leftist President Pedro Castillo will lead “an extraordinary session of the Council of Ministers to address the situation and the problems of the Las Bambas mining project,” on Friday, according to a government press release.

Defense Minister Jose Luis Gavidida said he was ready to launch a military operative that would remove the protesting communities and restore operations at the mine, but that this needed Cabinet approval.

“A military and police intervention needs to take place to restore the rule of law,” he told local news outlet Canal N. “We are ready to intervene.”

The Las Bambas conflict, which has already left 3,000 without jobs, worsened this week after a fire broke out in part of a mine camp following clashes between police and community members. The company blamed the protesters, but the community of Huancuire denied any involvement in the fire.

Castillo’s government has struggled to appease protesters since taking office last July. Castillo was elected with massive support in mining regions amid pledges to better redistribute mining profits.

(By Marco Aquino and Steven Grattan; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


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