MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: State of emergency declared over Tia Maria

Published by MAC on 2015-05-24
Source: AFP, Telesur, International Viewpoint

... while workers intimidated over proposed national strike

Peru declares state of emergency in anti-mining protest area


23 May 2015

Peru has declared a state of emergency in the country's south, where a violent protest against the Tia Maria copper mine has left four people dead in two months.

The move late Friday, which means the military will take charge of security in the province of Islay, came hours after a clash between protesters and police left a 55-year-old demonstrator dead, according to medical sources.

Witnesses said the victim died after he was shot in the chest. Local authorities did not confirm or deny the information.

Additionally, four demonstrators and three police were injured when a group of protesters tried to take control of a local police station.

Earlier this month, the government had already deployed some troops to help local police maintain order.

Protesters are demonstrating against the project by Mexican-owned copper firm Southern Peru, which they say will pollute their water and damage agriculture.

Local residents, who have opposed the project for years, have been protesting since March 23.

The mining company last week called for calm, proposing a two-month break to address doubts about the mining project.

Peru, which has significant mineral wealth, is the second largest copper producer and the fifth largest gold producer in the world.

Peru Declares State of Emergency after Mine Protest Bloodshed


23 May 2015

The Arequipa region of southern Peru has been rocked by months of protests and demonstrations against the Southern Copper Corporation's Tia Maria project.

The government of Peru declared a state of emergency Friday in the province of Islay, Arequipa, after protests against the Tia Maria mining project escalated further resulting in another civilian death.

The Arequipa region of southern Peru has been rocked by months of protests and demonstrations against the Southern Copper Corporation's Tia Maria project. Locals fear the project will cause environmental damage and affect their ability to farm in the area.

The chief of the Ministerial Cabinet, Pedro Cateriano, told reporters that the right to mobilization, transport, and meetings were suspended for 60 days after attacks by police left another citizen dead, bringing the number up to four in the last two months, since the strike against the mine began.

Cateriano condemned the attempt at using violence to solve the issues and claimed that Peru had seen all “the efforts made to negotiate” around the technical aspects of the project.

The project, along with several others throughout Peru, is backed by the Peruvian government of Ollanta Humala, which has opted to cater to transnational mining companies, purportedly as a means to generate economic activity.

Since the beginning of 2009, local communities have slammed the initiative as damaging to the availability of water and therefore limiting the production of rice, sugar cane, and paprika in the valley of the river Tambo.

Since May 2013, the government has issued four separate sets of laws to make environmental and social standards flexible and favorable for extractive industries.

The government has sent in thousands of police and military to quell protests, which activists fear will only lead to more deaths.

Southern Copper Corporation ordered a halt their US$1.4 billion project for 60 days but that moved proved insufficient for demonstrators. Protesters are adamant that they will not cease until the project is canceled, an outcome rejected outright by President Humala.

State of emergency in Peru as anti-mining violence leaves 4 dead, dozens arrested

Cecilia Jamasmie

25 May 2015

Opponents began protesting in late March and have continued to hold demonstrations and block roads even though the company announced a 60-day "pause" in the project to allow time to allay opponents' concerns.

Peru's government declared a state of emergency for 60 days in the southern province of Arequipa Saturday after ongoing protests against Southern Copper Corp.’s $1.4 billion Tía Maria project claimed a fourth life.

Armed forces will help police restore order in the area and some constitutional rights will be suspended, including freedom of transit and the right to hold meetings, local newspaper El País reports.

Opponents began protesting in late March and have continued to hold demonstrations and block roads even though Southern Copper, a unit of Mexican mining giant Grupo Mexico, announced a 60-day "pause" in the project to allow time to allay local farmers' concerns. They fear a new copper mine in the region will pollute land and water and hurt their crops.

the company has guaranteed that it won’t touch water to be used for farming, and that dust from the mining process will also be controlled.
Last month Peru’s Energy and Mines Ministry issued a statement saying that the company has guaranteed that it won’t touch water to be used for farming, and that dust from the mining process will also be controlled. The announcement followed Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal’s declarations affirming that Tia Maria was “safe for the environment.”

Southern Copper, which has two mines and a smelter in the South American country, is awaiting a construction permit from the government so it can restart work on the project.

The protests against Tia Maria echo other fights between anti-mining groups, farmers and mining companies over the last few years over who gets to use precious water supplies in bone-dry areas of Peru.

The company estimates that Tia Maria will produce 120,000 tons of copper cathodes a year, for an estimated 20-year lifespan.

Peru’s government forecasts the country will produce 2.8 million tons of copper a year by 2016, about double its current production as a number of new projects come on stream.


Protests against Tia Maria mine continue

24 May 2015

Farmers and labor unions marched in the southern Peruvian district of Cocachacra on Saturday May 16 to continue the ongoing fight to shut down Tía María, a controversial mining project from the transnational U.S.-Mexican company Southern Copper.

The march is a direct response to Southern Copper’s decision the day before to pause the mining project for a period of 60 days. Protests continue as the transnational company has refused to withdraw its $1.4 billion project despite 52 days of continuous protests and violent repression.

“We continue our indefinite strike. We reject this mining project because Southern has proven to be a corrupt business. We want the project to withdraw now!” Augusto Paredes, representative of farmers of the Tambo Valley in Peru, told TeleSUR.

Opposition against to project originally started in 2009. Local farmers argue that the exploitation of copper in the region will contaminate and destroy their crops

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said Friday that the mining project will not be suspended explaining “the state cannot adopt a unilateral decision that is not governed by the law. It would expose the government to legal complaints and it would have terrible effects, both judicially and economically”.

For protesters the unwillingness on behalf of the government to act reveals that in Peru “multinational companies are ruling,” Augusto Paredes told TeleSUR. “The one that needs to provide the solution is the president because we all, Peruvian citizens, elected him. But we see once again, we realize once again, that the government only defends multinationals. The politics of this government goes against the people, against the Peruvian citizen.” On Saturday morning streets were blocked with trees and stones.

Peru strike spares output at top copper and gold mines


18 May 2015

Peru's production of copper and gold was largely unaffected by a national strike on Monday as unionized workers declined to down tools for fear of losing their jobs and companies used replacements.

Walk-outs at some mines, however, might have curbed silver, tin and iron output, according to unions in Peru, the world's third biggest copper, silver, zinc and tin producer and the seventh-ranked gold producer.

The strike, organized by the National Mining Federation that represents about 20,000 workers, aimed to press the government to tighten restrictions on firings and the use of contract workers.

But plans for an ambitious stoppage across Peru were upended after the government declared the strike unfounded and companies threatened to dismiss strikers or ordered contract workers to fill in, said federation head Ricardo Juarez.

Copper output from Peru's four top producers, Antamina, Southern Copper, Cerro Verde and Antapaccay, was normal, union bosses at the mines said. The mines together produced about a million tonnes of the red metal last year, or more than three quarters of Peru's total copper output.

Likewise, production at Peru's top gold deposits, Yanacocha and Misquichilca, which together churned out 1.6 million ounces of gold last year, continued unaffected, union leaders said.

But silver output from Uchucchacua was partially hurt by a strike that began earlier in May, said Carlos Galvez, the chief financial officer of operator Buenaventura . Galvez declined to specify by how much. The head of the Uchucchacua union said 50 percent of the mine's total workforce remained active.

Operations were normal at other leading silver producers, including Volcan and Antamina, said union leaders there.

Workers at the Peruvian unit of Shougang Group Co Ltd downed tools to back the national strike.

The company and the union disagreed over the impact of the labor action. Managing Director Raul Vera said production continued at 100 percent while union boss Julio Ortiz said it had stopped.

Tin output from Minsur likely slipped as unionized workers went on strike, said union boss Marco Sarca. Minsur did not respond to requests for comment. The mine produced 23,100 tonnes of tin last year.

The union and management at Peru's second biggest zinc and first biggest lead miner, Milpo, did not answer requests for comment on Monday. Antamina and Volcan are Peru's first and third biggest zinc producers, respectively. (Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino; Editing by Richard Pullin and Grant McCool)

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