Peruvian communities agree to lift road blockade affecting Las Bambas mine

Las Bambas is considered the world’s ninth-largest copper mine with an output of about 400,000 tonnes per year. (Image courtesy of MMG.)

Peruvian residents living near MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine agreed on Wednesday to lift a road blockade affecting the company’s metal shipments, following a public meeting with Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez.

At the meeting, Vasquez said Las Bambas would begin transferring tax funds to the region where the mine is located in January, a key demand from residents who say the local mineral wealth has not translated to better living conditions.

“As a sign of good faith, we ask that you clear the roads,” Vasquez said at the meeting with residents of the Cotabambas province.

Las Bambas has yet to pay the tax transfers because under Peruvian law those funds are only due after the company recovers its initial investment. While Las Bambas began operations in 2016, its initial investment was $10 billion.

MMG did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether shipments had resumed, or when they would resume.

Las Bambas is Peru’s fourth largest copper mine, responsible for about 2% of global supply.

Vasquez is a lawyer who has in the past defended rural communities in conflicts with mining companies, including the Cotabambas province in its longstanding dispute against Las Bambas.

“We are really conscious of the fact all your demands are legitimate and that we should try to resolve them,” she said during the meeting.

(By Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot)

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