MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Peru Farmers Hold New Protests Against Rio Blanco

Published by MAC on 2005-09-30
Source: Reuters

Peru farmers hold new protests against Rio Blanco

Fri Sep 30, 2005

Reuters

LIMA, Peru - Hundreds of Peruvian farmers on Thursday held a second day of protests against the Rio Blanco copper deposit, owned by Britain's Monterrico Metals Plc, to demand the company drop the deposit because of fears mining could pollute local water supplies.

"The protest was peaceful but the message is clear ... People don't want mining here," said Eduardo Caceres, mayor of the northern city of Piura, the capital of the province in which the deposit is located.

Caceres said about 500 people from across northern Peru protested in Piura following a march by around 1,000 farmers on Wednesday in the nearby town of Huancabamba.

Monterrico, which says Rio Blanco could begin production in 2008, declined to comment on the protests.

It has previously said the protests are not driven by environmental fears but rather by left-wing radicals whipping up resistance for political gain.

Despite months of meetings with community groups this year, fatal protests flared up in August when protesters clashed with police at the Rio Blanco site on Peru's remote jungle border with Ecuador at 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level.

The company says Rio Blanco could be Peru's No. 2 copper mine, boosting the country's output of the red metal by a quarter from 2008. Peru is the world's No. 3 copper producer.

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