LIMA – A leader of protests against the Tia Maria copper mine in southern Peru was arrested as he was allegedly planning to set up roadblocks, local media reported Thursday.
Jesus Cornejo Reinoso was detained while he and a group of demonstrators were headed in the direction of the Pan-American Highway, La Republica daily reported.
The demonstrators said they were preparing to receive other protest leaders arriving from the city of Arequipa, but according to police Cornejo was arrested due to his plans to block traffic.
Protests in Peru against the Tia Maria mine began more than 20 days ago. Violent incidents involving demonstrators and the police broke out over the first few days, leaving dozens injured and causing damage to a fire station.
Opponents of the $1.4 billion project – which is being carried out by Southern Copper Corporation, a unit of Mexico City-based Grupo Mexico – say the mine will contaminate crops and the Tambo River.
The company has been unable to allay those concerns despite its insistence that the mine will use desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean.
Tia Maria, which is to begin operating in 2017, is expected to produce around 120,000 tons of copper cathodes annually.