Peru’s prime minister on Thursday failed to broker a deal with indigenous communities to allow for the restart of operations at MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine, the government’s fourth failed negotiation attempt.
Chinese-owned Las Bambas is one of the world’s largest copper mines, accounting for 2% of global supplies. The mine suspended operations on April 20 after two indigenous communities entered company property, reclaiming land that had once belonged to them before the mine started operations in 2016.
Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Anibal Torres traveled to the Andean region of Apurimac where the mine is located. But he arrived late and then abruptly left the meeting only an hour after it had started.
“It’s a lack of respect toward community members,” Baltazar Lataron, the governor of Apurimac, said about Torres’s departure.
The failed meeting extends the uncertainty on when Las Bambas will be able to restart copper production as its current suspension approaches the one-month mark, its longest shutdown so far.
Las Bambas accounts for 1% of Peru’s gross domestic product and company executives have warned that if a solution is not found soon they may have to furlough or fire some of its workers.
The protesting communities of Fuerabamba and Huancuire sold land to Las Bambas in the past for millions of dollars, but allege the mine has failed to honor all of its commitments.
Las Bambas is notorious for its social conflicts, involving dozens of different Andean communities that allege the benefits of its vast mineral wealth have not trickled down to them.
(By Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Marguerita Choy)