Lima, Jun 2 (EFE).- 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 the Las Bambas copper mine in the southern region of Apurimac.
“Las Bambas represents the largest investment in the history of Peru and it’s already been paralyzed 50 days without being able to renew operations,” Claudio Caceres, director of legal affairs at the giant open-pit mine, told Efe.
“Basically, this march seeks to make heard the voice of the more than 8,000 workers who are affected,” he said.
Residents of the surrounding area invaded Las Bambas on April 14 to protest what they say is the failure of the Chinese company operating the mine, MGM, to keep promises of compensation of community members who were displaced by the project.
A delegation of the miners who marched in Lima met with Prime Minister Anibal Torres.
“We understand perfectly well the problem in Las Bambas, we judge that this situation cannot continue, we have made all possible efforts to have the community end the measures of force, but they don’t wish to,” he told the miners, according to a statement issued by his office.
The central government, he said, has no control over the matters in dispute between the community and MGM and its approach to the problem are guided by a determination “to avoid fatal outcomes.”
Raul Jacob, head of the National Society of Mining, Petroleum, and Energy, told Efe ahead of the premier’s meeting with the workers that the government has other legal tools it can use to resolve the situation.
“We see with great concern that this is not happening and we are losing $10 million a day in exports and 8 million soles (about $2 million) in taxes,” the industry representative said. “It’s a tremendous amount that will hurt the country.”
Las Bambas accounts for roughly 2 percent of global copper production.
“The government is making countless efforts to be able to re-initiate the dialogue,” Caceres said. “It’s inexplicable how after 50 days the communities refuse to form a working group and fairly resolve this situation.” EFE pbc/dr