LIMA – The president of Peru’s SNMPE mining chamber has called for the temporary suspension of Southern Copper’s Tia Maria project, saying the move is necessary to halt a wave of violent protests in the southern region of Arequipa.
In statements cited by La Republica daily, Carlos Galvez said Wednesday that suspending the protests would bring an end to the violence and open a space for dialogue with opponents of the project, located in that region’s southernmost province, Islay.
“We should give ourselves a space to prevent a further escalation of the violence, because no project can be imposed by force; a truce would be appropriate. We should seek a suspension of activities for a time (while obtaining social approval for) the project,” he added.
Galvez said Southern Copper representative Hans Flury also expressed a desire to temporarily suspend the project during a meeting with representatives of the SNMPE, which represents large mining companies operating in the Andean nation.
At least 14 people – seven police and seven university students – were injured Wednesday during clashes on the second day of a 72-hour strike called for the Arequipa region. Those demonstrations were launched in support of long-running protests in Islay against Tia Maria.
Protests leaders said Monday they will continue an “indefinite strike” in Islay even though the government last weekend ordered soldiers deployed to that province, where 3 people have been reported killed and 200 injured during more than 50 days of frequently violent demonstrations.
Southern Copper, a unit of Mexico City-based mining giant Grupo Mexico, said on March 27 that it had no plans to halt the Tia Maria project, contradicting an announcement to that effect hours earlier by its official spokesman in Peru, who said the project would have to be scrapped due to “anti-mining terrorism.”
Southern Copper plans to invest some $1.4 billion in the construction of Tia Maria, which has an estimated mine life of 18 years and is projected to produce 120,000 metric tons of copper cathodes annually from the start of operations.