MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru protest against Tia Maria continues

Published by MAC on 2010-11-29
Source: Business News Americas, Reuters (2010-11-22)

Tia Maria continues to face opposition from local residents

By Ryan Dube

Business News Americas

17 November 2010

US-based Southern Copper's US$934mn Tia Maria project in southern Peru's Arequipa region is likely to continue facing opposition from local residents in the short term, Jose de Echave, the head of community rights and extractive industries at Lima-based NGO CooperAccion, told BNamericas.

Protests at Tia Maria mine in Peru
Protests at Tia Maria mine in Peru - Manuel Berríos, La Republica

"I think it's going to be very difficult [to advance with the project] in the short term," De Echave said. "The levels of distrust are very high. It's going to be very difficult for relations to recover in the short term."

Tia Maria was put on hold in April following protests by local residents who are concerned about the project's potential environmental impact. The protests occurred before a public hearing to present the EIA.

The government announced plans to form a technical committee to evaluate the EIA, but the group was never formed.

SCC recently said it expects to receive government authorization before year-end for alternative actions - such as TV presentations and radio transmissions explaining the process to local communities - to obtain approval for the EIA.

"After a period of these new actions... we should receive the EIA approval and start construction in the first quarter of 2011," CFO Genaro Guerrero said.

National water authority ANA approved last week a voluntary proposal from SCC to only use seawater for Tia Maria. The company must now get approval from local authorities to install a desalination plant.

However, tension over Tia Maria has flared up again this month. On Monday (Nov 15), opponents of the project clashed with police during a ceremony in Islay province, where Tia Maria is located. The ceremony involved a SCC donation of agricultural equipment to local farmers, but it had to be stopped due to the confrontation.

Deputy agriculture minister Luis Felipe Sanchez and SCC representatives were escorted from the site under police protection, paper La Republica reported.

Residents have also announced plans to hold protests against Tia Maria on November 22.

As a result of the renewed confrontations, SCC should temporarily hold off seeking EIA approval in order to rebuild confidence with residents, according to De Echave.

"The way things are now with the tension in the area, I think it would be a good message from the company to recognize that, for the moment, the project is not socially viable."

Tia Maria has projected copper cathode output of 120,000t/y.


Peru protesters try to stop Southern Copper mine

By Miguel Zegarra

Reuters

22 November 2010

AREQUIPA - Hundreds of protesters opposed to a mine of Southern Copper smashed windows at a training center and set a bus on fire on Monday, witnesses said in the latest conflict over natural resources in Peru.

At least a thousand police officers were also dispatched to prevent protesters from blockading a section of the Pan-American highway open near the town of Islay, 620 miles (1,000 km) south of Lima, the capital.

After a round of strident protests by farmers earlier this year, Southern Copper said it would build a desalination plant fed by seawater to appease planters who said the $1 billion Tia Maria project would have taken their supplies of freshwater.

Mines and Energy minister Pedro Sanchez had told company earlier this year it must build a desalination plant if it wants to go ahead with the project and avoid further opposition from the community.

Since then, at least two local groups have taken different positions about the project.

"What we want as farmers is that they give us a space for dialogue," said Gualberto Herrera, head of a community group called the Association for Sustainable Development in the Tambo Valley. "The majority is open to seeing the project go forward, but in a responsible way."

Some farmers have asked the company build a reservoir for local planters to use.

Another group, called the Front for the Defense of the Tambo Valley, says the mine would cause pollution and accused the government of President Alan Garcia of being on the side of big mining companies.

"The problem isn't just whether you use seawater instead of another source. The problem is the whole context of mining in our province," said the group's leader, Pepe Julio Gutierrez.

The project was put on hold in late April for 90 days, while the government and local communities worked on an environmental impact study.

Peru is the world's second biggest copper miner after neighboring Chile and is frequently rattled by disputes over mining and oil projects.

Southern Copper is a unit of Grupo Mexico and one of the world's largest copper producers.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Velez and Teresa Cespedes in Lima; Editing by Marguerita Choy)


Peru Copper Mine Protesters Injured In Police Clashes

Dow Jones

22 November 2010

Clashes between police and protesters trying to stop the Tia Maria mine project owned by the Southern Copper Corp. have left four injured.

The latest protests against the Tia Maria project in the southern Peruvian province of Islay began Monday morning in the midst of a heavy police presence.

Speaking to TV station Canal N, an official said about 2,000 police had been mobilized to keep a southern section of Peru's key Pan-American Highway free of protesters trying to set up blockades.

The protesters finally clashed with police midmorning, leaving four injured, while 10 people were detained, said Tia Maria opposition organizer Pepe Julio Gutierrez in a telephone interview.

TV images showed police firing tear gas at the protesters, who were carrying sticks and throwing stones.

"The police used heavy force," said Gutierrez. A bus was burned by the protesters, Canal N said, who also attacked a Tia Maria project installation.

Other protests earlier this year forced Southern Copper to suspend work at the Tia Maria project to allow a government-backed technical committee, consisting of representatives from Southern Copper and the local community, to report on the project. However, the commission has been stalled due to a boycott by community leaders.

Last Friday, Southern Copper chief executive Oscar Gonzalez Rocha said he was confident the Tia Maria project, which is expected to produce 120,000 tons of copper a year, would proceed despite "the minority that is still involved in the protests."

Southern Copper, which has mines in Peru and Mexico, is controlled by Grupo Mexico. Its copper mining production in the third quarter totaled 125,193 tons.

Peru is the world's second biggest copper producer, according to figures from the mining ministry.


Peru asks U.N. to help in Southern Copper dispute

Reuters

24 November 2010

LIMA - Peru has asked a U.N. agency to evaluate the environmental impact for Southern Copper's

Mines and Energy minister Pedro Sanchez said the UNOPS agency, which works on peacebuilding and development issues, would improve the quality of environmental planning and the evaluation of the project.

He said the evaluation of the study submitted by the company would be concluded by January and the UNOPS would work on complex projects planned by other miners.

Peruvians opposed to the $1 billion Southern Copper project rallied for a second day on Tuesday after rock-throwing protesters smashed windows and torched a bus on Monday near the town of Islay, 620 miles (1,000 km) south of Lima, the capital.

At least a thousand police officers have been dispatched to prevent protesters from blockading a section of the Pan-American highway.

Peru has lured billions of dollars in foreign investment to the mining and oil sector, but more than a hundred towns nationwide have voiced opposition to new projects.

Violence at times has broken out and last year President Alan Garcia was forced to fire his entire cabinet after three dozen people died in the Amazon in a clash over a law to encourage oil projects on tribal lands. It was the worst domestic crisis of his term.

After a previous round of strident protests by farmers earlier this year, Lima-based Southern Copper said it would build a desalination plant fed by seawater to appease planters who said the Tia Maria project would have taken their supplies of freshwater.

Since then, at least two local groups have taken different positions about the project -- with one saying the mine could be built if it is carefully planned and another saying it would cause pollution.

The mining ministry said some community leaders are being intransigent and have boycotted efforts to form working groups to resolve their differences with the company.

The project was put on hold in late April for 90 days, while the government and local communities worked on an environmental impact study.

Peru is the world's second biggest copper miner after neighboring Chile and is frequently rattled by disputes over mining and oil projects.

Southern Copper is a unit of Grupo Mexico and one of the world's largest copper producers.

(Reporting by Patricia Velez and Terry Wade in Lima; Editing by David Gregorio)


Peru asks Southern Copper for Tia Maria copper project details

Reuters

30 October 2009

LIMA - Peru's government said on Thursday it has asked Southern Copper to provide details about the expected impact of its Tia Maria copper project on area water supplies.

Tia Maria, which is forecast to produce 120,000 tonnes of copper per year, is slated to start production in the second quarter of 2011.

But the project, which the company has said requires a nearly $1 billion investment, has come under criticism from communities that are worried the development will put local water supplies, and agriculture, at risk.

Peru is the world's third-largest copper producer.

"We've spoken to the company and asked it to provide area authorities with further details, so that they know what the implications (of the project) are in terms of water," Fernando Gala, the vice minister of mines, told the state news agency.

Southern Copper, one of the world's largest copper producers, is a unit of Grupo Mexico.

The company has said it plans to use water found underground and not tap the two principle rivers that run through the area.

Besides Tia Maria, Southern Copper is moving forward with an expansion at Toquepala, which is expected to lift the mine's capacity to some 100,000 tonnes of copper per year. (Reporting by Patricia Velez; Writing by Dana Ford; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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