Truce expires at Peru's Las Bambas copper mine without clear path forward

  • World
  • Friday, 22 Jul 2022

FILE PHOTO: Members of the indigenous community of Huancuire camp near the Las Bambas copper mine as part of a protest to demand the land they call ancestral lands, to be returned to the communities, in Apurimac, Peru. Picture taken May 9, 2022 with a drone. REUTERS/Angela Ponce

LIMA (Reuters) -Six indigenous Peruvian communities that have been protesting MMG Ltd's Las Bambas copper mine said on Thursday there has been no progress after a full month of talks, as a precarious truce came to an end without a clear next step.

The indigenous groups earlier this year staged the most significant protests in the history of the Chinese-owned Las Bambas, forcing the mine to suspend operations for over a month before agreeing to a 30-day truce in June.

That truce ended on Thursday.

The communities, the government and the company discussed extending the truce for another month during a meeting that stretched through Thursday night but the local groups ultimately declined to sign any agreement.

The result leaves Las Bambas, one of the world's largest copper mines, in flux and facing the possibility of renewed protests that could once again disrupt its operations.

"In my community, there is no progress," said Romualdo Ochoa, the President of the Huancuire community, which is opposing a planned expansion by Las Bambas into its territory. "This is disappointing."

The indigenous communities say Las Bambas has not fulfilled all of its commitments with them and also say that the company has failed to benefit them financially.

Las Bambas executive Ivo Zhao said at the meeting that the company is willing to continue the talks. "It is necessary to continue negotiating," Zhao said.

Keeping Las Bambas in operation is also important for Peru, which is the world's No. 2 copper producer and depends on mining for a significant percentage of its tax revenue.

The suspension of operations at Las Bambas, as well as a separate suspension at Southern Copper Corp's Cuajone mine this year have weighed on the Peruvian economy, which is already under pressure to meet growth expectations because of falling commodity prices and worries about a worldwide recession.

(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun and Marco Aquino; Editing by Sandra Maler and Christian Schmollinger)

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