Protest blocks $530m worth of copper from Las Bambas

Las Bambas mine, Peru. (Image courtesy of Minera Las Bambas)

A three-week-long roadblock protest by locals has prevented Las Bambas mine in Peru, run by MMG, from exporting 189,000 tonnes of copper concentrate, a mining association leader said on Tuesday.

Pablo de la Flor, executive director of the National Society of Mining, Oil and Energy, said the blockade of a road in the Cusco region, 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the mine, had lasted 24 days and prevented export of copper concentrate worth $530 million. He warned that the company could start to halt production altogether in the coming days.

Communities living around the mine have long complained about the lack of local benefits

The mine is one of Peru’s largest copper producers, accounting for around 2% of global supply. London Metal Exchange copper rose as much as 1.3% to $8,103.50 a tonne on Wednesday, its highest since February 2013.

MMG, a subsidiary of state-owned China Minmetals Corp, said there had so far been no impact on production.

“However, we remain concerned regarding the risk that production will be impacted should no resolution be found to the current impasse,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

The company last Thursday said the blockade had forced it to declare force majeure on some supply contracts, after earlier saying if the protest continued it would progressively curtail output and carry out maintenance instead.

Communities living around the mine have long complained about the lack of local benefits from the presence of Las Bambas and periodically block roads in protest.

“What we’re seeing is an illegal act that prevents the free movement of workers, the bringing in of materials and taking out of goods from one of Peru’s most important mines which contributes 1% of the Gross Domestic Product,” de la Flor said. MMG has said it reached an agreement in September with the municipality of Velille to finance sustainable development projects for up to 1.25 million soles ($348,000) over two years, as well as making spot payments to families impacted by the effects of covid-19.

(By Maria Cervantes, Tom Daly and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Raju Gopalakrishnan)


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