MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru Declares State of Emergency After Clashes at Las Bambas

Published by MAC on 2015-10-03
Source: BBC, Telesur,, Proactive Investor

Protests at MMG's Las Bambas mine in Peru have resulted in four fatalities and 16 people seriously injured.

This was an ex-Xstrata mine, which was sold by Glencore. As an article points out below it is difficult to know how much any current conflict is based on the time that Glencore-Xstrata were in control. It is worth nothing that the World Bank's Global Environment Fund donated $4 million into the community compensation fund in 2009 - see:

Mining protests turn deadly in Peru

Michael Allan McCrae

30 September 2015

Protests at MMG's Las Bambas mine in Peru resulted in four fatalities and 16 people seriously injured yesterday, said the company in statement.

A state of emergency has been imposed at the Apurimac region near the Las Bambas Project. The government has sent army and police to the region to restore order.

Las Bambas is a multi-billion dollar mining project at an advanced stage of production. The company says that Las Bambas is expected to be one of the top three copper producing mines in the world and is currently one of the largest copper projects in construction on a copper resource basis.

The company said tensions are still high. Changes to the environmental plans have angered protesters. Apurímac regional president Wilber Venegas told BNA what is upsetting some residents:

The local population objects to China Minmetals' decision to scrap a mineral slurry pipeline and build a molybdenum plant in Apurímac instead of in Cusco, Venegas said. Under Peruvian law, changes in previously approved environmental impact studies don't require additional public hearings.

"These people fear there will be environmental damages in their area, and the information hasn't been properly communicated," Venegas told reporters in Lima. "The government needs to form a high-level delegation to go to the area and solve these problems."

MMG Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Michelmore said the company is working with residents.

"Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of the people located at the site and the local community, as well securing the site itself. As a result, late stage commissioning activities are now suspended.

"Clearly our preference is for those organising these protests to stop the violence, respect the orders of the military and police and to speak with us.

"The Las Bambas team has maintained positive dialogue with the Cotabambas and Grau communities of Apurimac over close to ten years of project development."

MMG is a Chinese owned company. It purchased the Las Bambas project from Glencore plc in August 2014.

Glencore’s sale of Las Bambas now looks timely, as violence erupts

Alastair Ford

Proactive Investors

2 October 2015

Mining at Las Bambas could now prove troublesome
Believe it or not, things could be even worse for Glencore.

For investors looking at a share price that’s dropped by 75% in less than six months, that may seem hard to credit.

But one of Glencore’s former flagship assets, the Las Bambas copper development project in Peru, this week ran into the type of trouble that it’s virtually impossible to get out of.

Elections are coming and in Peruvian politics that’s a good time to air grievances, as Newmont (NYSE:NEM) has learnt to its cost over the years at its giant Yanacocha gold mine, as Monterrico Metals learnt at its copper project before it was sold to Chinese buyers, and as even tiny little Minera IRL (LON:MIRL) has been learning this year, following the death of the man who (we now know) had hitherto been keeping community relations on a very good footing.

Now, the political bug has hit Las Bambas and this time it’s bigger than ever.

The Peruvian government has been forced to declare a state of emergency in six provinces after four people were killed in protests against the project.

This doesn’t just mean the government is mobilising a lot of fire engines and ambulances. It has suspended freedom of assembly and can search homes without a warrant for 30 days. The armed forces will assist in the policing of the affected southeast region.

This is big political capital for one mine.

But there’s plenty of stake at Las Bambas as the Glencore knew only too well when it sold to a Chinese consortium led by MMG (HKG:1208), and as the protestors still know. It’s slated to add 1.4% to Peru’s GDP, at the last sale changed hands for a whopping US$6bn. And it isn’t even up and running yet – first concentrate had been scheduled for the first quarter of next year.

Now, whether or not Glencore itself would have hit the same buffers as the new Chinese owners of Las Bambas have is perhaps moot. The protestors say that MMG has moved the proposed location of plant to an area that the local community objects to, so perhaps not.

On the other hand, as became abundantly clear with the issues that have affected Minera IRL over the past few weeks, there tends to be more to these things than meets the eye.

Certainly, the financial press and the global community of mining analysts would have had a field day if Las Bambas had still been inside the asset portfolio and it had run into the buffers like this, never mind that Glencore’s exposure to copper – recently its kryptonite as far as share price is concerned – would have been even greater.

That Las Bambas is now inside a Chinese company makes the story play slightly differently.

It was Chinese regulators who demanded that Glencore sell Las Bambas as their price for giving the green light to the takeover of Xstrata back in 2013.

And cynical industry watchers were hardly surprised when a Chinese group duly took control of the asset, albeit in a completely separate transaction.

Now though, whichever way you look there’s pathos to be found. Hand-wringing Glencore shareholders can be glad that the company no longer has on its books the 17mln tonnes of copper in reserves and resources that it palmed off to MMG and partners for cash. And they can also be glad that the years of social issues and upheaval that now look inevitable are somebody else’s problem.

The Chinese, though, are in a better position in terms of their own constituent investor base to weather such community crisis concerns, since as is widely recognised whether listed or not on the Hong Kong or Shanghai Exchanges all Chinese companies are essentially parastatal.

What’s more, Chinese companies pay cash with a liberality that has sometimes startled Western counterparts.

But wouldn’t you if your ultimate back was the state, and the state had US$3.69 trillion in reserves?

After all, as a wise man once said, no company ever went bust that wasn’t in debt. The markets have been joyfully using Glencore as a punching bag using its high debt levels as justification for the violence inflicted on the share price.

Chinese mining companies are less laden with debt than their western counterparts and hence MMG, or any other parastatal that gets mired in a community relations crisis like the ongoing one at Las Bambas, is unlikely to get punished in the way that Glencore might otherwise have been: they just aren’t as vulnerable.

Having said that, MMG does now have a big problem. Newmont has mined Yanacocha for years, and successfully so. But it’s always been a flashpoint for local and international activists and an ongoing public relations sore.

There’s every chance now that Las Bambas will become the same.


Peru declares state of emergency in mining region

BBC News

30 September 2015

Peru declared a 30-day state of emergency in the Apurimac region on Tuesday after four people were killed during anti-mining protests.

The four were shot dead in clashes between police and protesters at the Chinese-owned Las Bambas mine project.

Locals fear the $7.4bn (£4.9bn) copper mine project will cause environmental damage to the Andean area.

The government said extra troops would be sent to Apurimac "to restore internal peace".

Curbs on liberties

While the state of emergency is in force, police are able to search homes without a warrant and freedom of assembly is suspended.

It is the second time this year a state of emergency has been declared in Peru to quell anti-mining protests.

In May, a state of emergency was declared for 60 days in the province of Islay in Arequipa after protests against the Tia Maria copper mine turned deadly.

The protests in Apurimac began on Friday.

They escalated on Monday when some of the estimated 2,000 demonstrators tried to move onto land owned by the mining project near the town of Challhuahuacho.

Fourteen protesters and eight police officers were injured.

Locals are angry about changes to the project's environmental impact plan, which they say they were not consulted about.

They say that under the new plan, the area and its groundwater are at risk from contamination.

Peru is currently the third biggest producer of copper after Chile and China.

It is seeking to overtake China but its ambitions have been hampered by local opposition to the projects.

Peru Declares State of Emergency After Mine Clashes

30 September 2015

The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency following violent clashes between protesters and security forces.
The Peruvian government declared a 30-day state of emergency on Tuesday in three provinces throughout the country following violent clashes between protesters and police, which left four people dead and fifteen people injured.

Under the presidential decree, the armed forces will now support the national police in maintaining order in these provinces. The state of emergency also suspends the rights of freedom of movement and assembly.

The violence began after protesters began demonstrating against the proposed expansion of the Las Bambas mining project located in Apurimac, which they claim will have a negative environmental impact.

The project is planned to produce 400,000 metric tons of copper annually from 2017 and is expected to increase Peru’s GDP by 1.4 percent, according to Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano.

However, protesters are concerned that the project will cause severe environmental damage to the surrounding areas.

The local El Tiempo reported on Wednesday that the protesting residents suspended their demonstrations against the mine for 72 hours in an attempt to force dialogue with the government after confrontations escalated in casualties.

The announcement comes as the UK-based NGO Global Witness released a publication documenting high levels of violence carried out against Peru’s environmental activists. The report also noted that between 2002 and 2014, at least 57 murders took place in Peru, the majority of which stemmed from conflicts over mining projects.  

Despite having stood for office on environmental issues, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has approved several controversial extraction projects. The government has authorized over a dozen projects without prior consultation of the communities in which the projects are located.

Two killed in protest at $7.4-billion MMG copper project in Peru

29 September 2015

LIMA - Two protesters were shot dead and eight police officers wounded after a group of activists broke into MMG Ltd's $7.4- billion Las Bambas project in a remote Andean region in Peru, the government said on Monday.

Peru, the world's third biggest producer of copper, is expected to nearly double output of the metal in coming years, but is rife with conflicts over mining. Many towns near big projects fear pollution or seek more benefits.

The unrest in the highland town of Challhuahuacho comes as MMG has been wrapping up construction of a massive mine that is expected to add 400,000 tonnes of copper to global supply each year.

Protesters were demanding that MMG revise part of its environmental plan and hire more locals, authorities said. About 1,500 police officers and 150 military officers had been sent to the zone ahead of rallies that started on Friday.

Interior Minister Jose Luis Perez said radical groups from outside the area had provoked the clashes.

"Police used non-lethal weapons at the start, and then, to defend themselves, had to use lethal weapons," Perez said in a televised interview.

Police fired tear gas and live bullets at crowds during rallies that had been largely peaceful, said Uriel Condori, a councillor with the government of Challhuahuacho.

Ten people had bullet wounds, a doctor, Jeronimo Roque, told broadcaster RPP.

Residents of nearby areas were upset over a change to the mine's environmental plan they feared would lead to processing of more mineral concentrates and threaten the environment, said Condori.

A sudden drop in employment as work linked to the mine winds down has also fed frustration, Condori and Perez said.

President Ollanta Humala called for talks to settle the disputes.

MMG said it remains open to dialogue and that communities near the mine did not participate in the protests.

"Las Bambas has demonstrated through the years its vast capacity for working with communities in the area of influence," the company said in a statement.

Commercial production should start in May or June, MMG said last week.

Protesters in Challhuahuacho were not calling for Las Bambas to be canceled, Condori said.

Las Bambas will make up 1.5 percent of gross domestic product next year, Perez said.

"This will not stop the mine from going forward," Perez said.

Earlier this year, deadly demonstrations derailed Southern Copper Corp's $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper project as construction was set to start.

(Reporting by Mitra Taj, Marco Aquino and Teresa Cespedes; Editing by Leslie Adler and Clarence Fernandez)


Peru Copper Mine Protests: At Least 2 Killed, 18 Hurt In Clashes With Police In Las Bambas

By Vishakha Sonawane -

29 September 2015

At least two protesters were killed and several injured in clashes with police in Peru's Las Bambas mining zone, authorities said Monday, Sept. 29, 2015. Pictured: An undated aerial picture of the Las Bambas copper deposit zone in southern Peru. Getty Images/AFP/Jaime Razuri

At least two protesters were killed and 18 wounded after police opened fire on demonstrators protesting the construction of a $7.4 billion Chinese-owned copper mining project in Peru’s southern province of Cotabambas.

Police and protesters clashed in the mining zone of Las Bambas where Chinese company MMG Ltd. is constructing a mine that could add 400,000 tons of copper to the global supply each year, according to Reuters. Protesters have demanded that MMG change part of its environmental plan and recruit more locals, authorities reportedly said.

"The two men died of bullet wounds. One was age 30, the other age 24," local surgeon Percy Jeronimo said Monday, according to the Associated Press (AP). He added that four others were in critical condition.

About 1,500 police officers and 150 military officers were sent to the area ahead of protests that began Friday. Police reportedly opened fire after demonstrators stormed a part of the mine. Jose Soplopuco, the local health director, told the AP that police also shot at a vehicle carrying doctors, keeping ambulances away from the area.

Interior Minister Jose Luis Perez said fundamentalists from outside the mining area had instigated the protests. "Police used non-lethal weapons at the start, and then, to defend themselves, had to use lethal weapons," Perez reportedly said, in a televised interview.

Peru is the world's third largest copper producer and mining comprises about 60 percent of the country’s export earnings.

Deaths of four anti-mining protestors a catastrophic consequence of Peru’s weakened environmental safeguards, warns Global Witness

Global Witness release

5 October 2015

The recent deaths of four anti-mining community protestors in Peru are a demonstration of the problems caused by its recent weakening of environmental safeguards, and of its dangerous crackdown on civil society, says campaign group Global Witness: changes brought in at the expense of Peru’s environment and those that seek to protect it.

The killings are part of a trend in Peru that Global Witness exposed, in its November 2014 report Peru’s Deadly Environment. The report showed how 73% of the 57 killings of environmental and land defenders between 2002-2014 happened at the hands of state and private security forces, mostly related to protests against extractive sector projects (1). With these four killings that brings the death toll to 61.

In the run up to the flagship UN Climate Conference in Paris, the deaths of the four protestors remind the world that Peru has a lot to do to live up to its human rights and environmental aspirations.

“Peru must urgently hold those responsible for these killings to account” says Chris Moye, campaigner with Global Witness. “By ignoring environmental concerns over mining projects Peru’s government is provoking increasingly bloody conflicts with local communities, and harming its environment, at the expense of its climate change obligations.”

The organisation is also calling for Peru to protect peaceful protestors as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Organisation of American States’ resolution on human rights defenders.

The reported use of lethal force by the police against the community protestors in the Region of Apurimac, comes off the back of the passage of law 30151, which impacts on the right to peaceful protest by granting members of the armed forces and the national police exemptions from criminal responsibility if they cause injury or death while carrying out their duties (2). Global Witness is calling for this law to be revoked.

The crisis in Peru’s mining sector has also been catalysed by the recent passage of Law 30230 approved in July last year (3). The law cuts back on environmental safeguards, like the time designated for the evaluation of Environmental Impact Assessments, in order to stimulate more investment in the extractive sector (4). In the case of the Apurimac protests against the Las Bambas mine, owned by Chinese company MMG, communities were specifically protesting against changes to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment which they weren’t consulted on (5) (6).


Contact details for Global Witness:
Chris Moye – Environmental Campaigner
Email: cmoye[at]
Phone number: +44 7525592737

Billy Kyte: Environmental and Land Defenders Senior Campaigner
Email: bkyte[at]
Phone number: + 44 207 7492 5851

Notes to editor:
(1) Global Witness, Peru’s Deadly Environment (14 November 2014).
(2) Global Witness, Peru’s Deadly Environment (14 November 2014).
(3) SPDA, Congreso aprobó paquete de medidas para la reactivación de la economía (3 July 2014). Available from:
(5) El Comercio, Las Bambas (29 September 2015): confirman que son 4 muertos por enfrentamientos, Esta mañana se registró un nuevo enfrentamiento, manifestantes quemaron una garita de control. Available from:
(6) The four local community members were killed by gunshots from policemen during widespread community protests in the Region of Apurimac, against one of the largest copper mines in Peru and in the world, operated by MMG Limited. A further 23 people have been reported injured in the clashes, including 15 civilians and 8 policemen.
While Peru paints a progressive image of its environmental credentials, by committing to conserve 54 million hectares of its forests and reduce to zero deforestation by 2020, as part of its climate change mitigation commitments, the reality on the ground is increasing environmental degradation, and intensifying conflict with indigenous and local communities affected by extractive sector projects that affect their forests. In Madre de Dios for example, the Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University found that the extent of illegal mining impacting on primary forests in that Region expanded from less than 10,000 hectares in 1999 to more than 50,000 ha as of September 2012, with devastating consequences for local environments and communities. Clearance of forest accounts for almost fifty per cent of Peru’s greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, Peru’s Human Rights Ombudsman documented 1935 social conflicts generated by opposition to mining projects over the period 2006 to 2014. Many of these protesting communities have over 20 million hectares of pending land title requests as yet unanswered by the State.

Global Witness
Lloyds Chambers
1 Portsoken Street



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