Protests of Tia Maria project in Peru turn deadly

April 23, 2015

Protests against Southern Copper Corps’ proposed Tia Maria project in Arequipa, Peru turned deadly as protestors clashed with police in the region.

Widespread protests left one dead and many more wounded on April 22, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A coalition of farmers, anti-mining activists and local politicians want Southern Copper Corp. to cancel its $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper project, saying it will harm farming by using water and creating dust in a nearby valley known as Valle de Tambo.

The National Police said that Victoriano Huayna Mina, 61, died of an injury to his right leg but said it wasn’t caused by the police.

Thousands of people marched and blocked roads as part of a month-long series of protests in the southern province. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.

“The protests are going to continue and things are going to get worse with this death,” Jose Ramos Carrera, mayor of the town of Punto de Bombón, said.

“There is no way the mining company has the permission from the local communities for a mine,” he added.

The government of President Ollanta Humala has supported the project, sending thousands of police officers to keep order. Newspaper El Comercio said the government is considering declaring a state of emergency in the areas around the conflict.

Southern Copper plans to dig out 120 kt/a (132,000 stpy) of copper from mid-2017 once a license for construction is granted by the government. The company says it plans to use desalinated water from the ocean and that the mining won’t cause any dust that would harm crops.

The long-stalled project was originally put on hold in 2011 after protests then led to three deaths. The company reworked its environmental impact study and the government approved that study last year. Southern Copper unofficially announced a halt to the project recently then went back on that and said it would continue.

Mexico’s Grupo Mexico is the majority owner of Southern Copper.

Other disputes have caused delays in mining projects in recent years in Peru, most notably the $5 billion copper and gold mine project known as Minas Conga, majority owned by Newmont Mining Corp. Most work there was suspended in 2011.

Peru is one of the world’s largest producers of gold, silver, copper, zinc and other minerals.


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