Protests of Peru’s copper mining industry continue
Protest of Peru’s copper industry continue at MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine and Southern Copper Corp’s planned Los Chancas project where two fires broke out on June 1 according to published reports.
Protests have grown increasingly violent against miners in recent months as communities demand higher benefits from the industry and prices for copper remain high.
Reuters reported that the situation is especially challenging for MMG and Southern Copper.
Las Bambas is one of the world’s largest copper mines, and operations have been halted since April 20 due to a protest by the indigenous Huancuire community that has settled inside company property.
Southern Copper suspended operations earlier this year for more than 50 days at its Cuajone Mine, as neighboring residents demanded a share of company profits, shutting the mine’s water supply in protest.
The administration led by left-wing President Pedro Castillo has struggled to appease mining protesters since taking office last July. Castillo was elected with massive support in mining regions amid pledges to better redistribute mining profits.
A government source confirmed the fire at Los Chancas, a $2.6 billion project that has yet to be built. The source said the fire was caused by artisanal miners who have already been extracting copper in the area and are opposing the construction of the new mine.
A Southern Copper representative had no immediate comment.
The fire at Las Bambas was confirmed by a source close to the company.
Huancuire and Las Bambas said injuries had been sustained during a clash on Tuesday with police. It was unclear if any injuries took place at Los Chancas or due to the fires.
Alexander Anglas, a lawyer for the Huancuire community, said it had not caused the fire but remained inside company property following a clash with police.
In a statement, Las Bambas said Huancuire members had “caused damages to goods and other infrastructure” after mine personnel, escorted by police, sought to enter the settlement area.