Peru declares state of emergency in response to protest of copper operations
Protests of copper projects in Peru has halted about 20 percent of the production of the metal in the nation. On April 20, the country declared a state of emergency near Southern Copper Corp's Cuajone Mine.
Peru is the world’s No. 2 producer of copper. Impoverished communities in Peru’s copper-rich Andes have been staging growing protests against mining companies including Cuajone, MMG Ltd's Las Bambas and Glencore’s Antapaccay.
Reuters reported that the protestors complain that the mineral wealth has not trickled down to their communities despite high international prices.
Cuajone suspended operations on Feb. 28 after residents of a nearby community shut down water supply to the mine, demanding financial compensation and a share of future profits.
The government of President Pedro Castillo had been reluctant to use emergency declarations, which suspend civil liberties, in order to suppress protests against Peru’s mighty copper industry.
But Prime Minister Anibal Torres on Wednesday said the government was running out of patience to solve the issue.
Communities “are demanding something irrational, $5 billion,” Torres said. “That has led us to declare a state of emergency, and the problem has to be solved now.”
In addition to Cuajone, production at Las Bambas was halted after residents of the Fuerabamba community entered the mine and set up camp inside of it, leading the Chinese-owned mine to announce a suspension of operations.
Peruvian government officials are holding a meeting with Fuerabamba representatives to try to diffuse the situation.
Castillo was elected last year with massive support of communities in mining regions amid pledges to better distribute copper profits.
Peru produced 2.3 Mt (2.5 million st) of the red metal in 2021, according to government statistics. Las Bambas produced close to 300 kt (330,000 st) while Cuajone produced another 170 kt (187,000 st) totaling 20 percent of national copper production.
Protests also started against a planned expansion at Glencore-owned Antapaccay. A source close to the company said the demonstrations had not blocked a key transport road shared by Antapaccay, Las Bambas and Hudbay’s Constancia copper mine.