Peru Cracks Down Hard On Mine Protests, Offers Talks

swissaustrian

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President Ollanta Humala's government has adopted a strategy of cracking down hard on violent protests against mining, while offering to negotiate to find solutions to activists' demands.

Mining opponents, in conjunction with some politicians in recent months, have enveloped Peru in a series of often-violent demonstrations against the mining sector.


This week, the government suspended civil liberties and called out the military to help quell protests against mining operations of Anglo-Swiss company Xstrata PLC (XTA.LN) in the Espinar province of southern Peru.

Protesters there, citing concerns about environmental contamination, proceeded to block roads, kidnap government officials and torch the building of a foundation aimed at improving social conditions. Two people were killed in the demonstrations.

Justice Minister Juan Jimenez, in a meeting with the foreign press on Friday, defended the state of emergency in Espinar, saying it has helped calm things down.

"Protests have to be peaceful and take place within the law. We are, however, entering into a period of very worrisome violence," Jimenez said.

"We have the feeling that behind the environmental or community concerns there are political demands being made by radical groups, who want to bring into question investments being made in Peru," he added.

Anti-mining opponents have recently halted investments in several planned mines, including at Southern Copper Corp.'s (SCCO, SCCO.VL) Tia Maria copper project and Newmont Mining Corp.'s (NEM) giant Minas Conga copper and gold project.

On Thursday, protests resumed against Minas Conga in the northern city of Cajamarca and continued on Friday. A demonstration in support of the mining also took place this week in Cajamarca.

Mining-sector analysts note that anti-mining activists in Espinar want Xstrata to shut down its Tintaya copper mine while asking the company to increase the payments it makes to social programs in the local community. These seem to be incompatible demands, analysts say.

Peru is one of the world's largest producers of precious and base metals, and has a number of large-scale projects on the drawing board. That includes Xstrata's planned Las Bambas base-metals mine in southern Peru.

Prime Minister Oscar Valdes on Friday defended the imposition of the state of emergency in Espinar, saying the government was responsible for ensuring peace and order.

"We need to turn the page and heal our wounds and sit down to talk, but setting aside extreme ideologies," Valdes said.

Copyright © 2012 Dow Jones Newswires
http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2012/06/01/peru-cracks-down-hard-on-mine-protests-offers-talks/
 

ancona

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Peru has a miserable record when it comes to controls on illegal mines. These guys dump TONS of mercury waste in to local watersheds every month. It has to stop.
 

DoChenRollingBearing

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@ swissaustrian, thanks for publishing this. I had read only sketchy details of these troubles before.

@ ancona, YES, the illegal mining going on not only dumps mercury and other crap into their environment, but apparently the illegal gold mining is EVEN BIGGER than the coca (precursor to you know what) growing an initial processing industry. From a recent Mineweb article.

***

I used to import Peruvian green coffee (unroasted coffee beans) before getting into bearings a bunch of years ago (late 1980s). I went to visit the cooperative in Tingo Maria, at that time Sendero Luminoso was running wild over the place down there. Peru is POOR, I could very easily understand how it was impossible to stop the drug trade in those mountains, when the USA could not stop marijuana production 50 miles from SF...

Way up there in the Andes it is really hard for the Peruvian government to really control things. Illegal mining = mercury being dumped into the environment. Illegal drug manufacturing = sulfuric acid and gasoline.

Peru is a wonderful country, but they DO have many problems, some of these are not pretty...
 
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