LIMA – Southern Copper CEO Oscar Gonzalez Rocha said the company could extend a 60-day pause at its stalled $1.4 billion Tia Maria project in the southern Peruvian province of Islay to allow more time to clear up local residents’ doubts about its environmental impact.
Opposition from local farmers led to a more than 60-day strike and violent disturbances earlier this year that left four dead and around 200 injured, prompting the national government to declare a state of emergency in that province in May.
“If necessary, we’d do it,” Gonzalez told RPP Noticias on Tuesday when asked whether the current 60-day pause, which ends in July, is sufficient for garnering local support for the project and if the timeframe could be extended.
The chief executive of Southern, a unit of Mexico City-based mining giant Grupo Mexico, said the company is preparing to launch a communications plan in Islay province and the areas near Tia Maria “so people are more aware of the project, so talks can be held and there can be direct communication to clear up any doubts they may have.”
Tia Maria will produce 120,000 tons of copper cathodes annually using the leaching and solvent extraction method, according to Southern, which say the mine will use desalinated seawater in the productive process.