Lima, Jun 7 (EFE).- Peru’s Catholic bishops conference said Tuesday that it received a request from President Pedro Castillo to mediate in the conflict between management and nearby residents which has paralyzed the Las Bambas copper mine, forcing thousands of layoffs.
Castillo reached out to the hierarchy last Friday, but the bishops said in a statement that their involvement is conditional on receiving similar requests from MMG, the Chinese company that operates the mine, and the surrounding communities.
For any mediation to be “viable,” all of the parties must agree on asking the bishops to intervene and so far, according to the statement, neither MMG nor the residents have made such an appeal.
“Dialogue is the only path to resolve differences,” the bishops said, urging both sides to think “of the common good and of the good of Peru.”
Residents of six communities invaded the mine in the southern Apurimac region on April 4 to protest what they say is the failure of MGM to keep promises of compensation of community members who were displaced by the project.
The occupiers said that decided to return to the ancestral territories they sold 10 years ago to miner Xstrata – which subsequently sold Las Bambas to MMG – because the Chinese company defaulted on more than 120 specific commitments to promote social and economic development.
Last Thursday, hundreds of Peruvian miners took to the streets of Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa on Thursday to push the government for action to resolve the conflict that has shut down Las Bambas, an open-pit mine that accounts for roughly 2 percent of global copper production.
A delegation of the miners who marched in Lima met with Prime Minister Anibal Torres, who told them that the government had “made all possible efforts to have the community end the measures of force, but they don’t wish to.”
The central government’s approach to the problem is guided by a determination “to avoid fatal outcomes,” the prime minister told representatives of the more than 8,000 workers at Las Bambas.
With the conflict as backdrop, members of Castillo’s leftist Peru Libre have submitted a bill to nationalize copper and create a state enterprise to operate Las Bambas. EFE mmr/dr