Tapping into Peru’s mining conflict

Originally broadcast by Al Jazeera.

Pressure is mounting on the Peruvian government to resolve a mining dispute following deadly protests  that rattled the country’s southeast region. Locals are fighting a $7.4 billion copper mining project. They accuse the China-backed company MMG Limited (MMG) of changing  the Las Bambas project’s environmental plan and failing to employ more locals.

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Following deadly clashes between protesters and police in late September, a state of emergency was declared and martial law implemented in the Apurimac and Cusco regions. Despite this, government officials have maintained support for the Las Bambas project saying it will generate economic growth for Peru, a country where more than 50 percent of its exports comes from mining copper, gold and silver. In a statement released on Tuesday, MMG said  the company “remains deeply concerned about the violent incidents that occurred in the vicinity of our project and is supporting all efforts to promote dialogue with elected and representative groups”.

This week, mayors from the Cotabambas province and representatives from civil society organisations met with government officials on conditions for lifting the state of emergency.

This isn’t the first time a mining project has created controversy in the country. In May, similar deadly protests  against Southern Copper’s $1.7 billion Tia Maria expansion plan in Arequipa took place, derailing the effort. However, the country’s interior minister says  protests will not stop Las Bambas from going forward.

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