LIMA – Metals producer Doe Run Peru’s creditors on Thursday rejected a restructuring plan the company presented with a view to restarting operations at the La Oroya smelter, the Energy and Mines Ministry said.
The ministry said in a statement that Doe Run Peru was placed in a process of “operational liquidation,” which allows the company, a unit of U.S.-based Renco Group, to continue operating while the board of creditors further analyzes its situation and prepares to make a final decision.
Alternatively, the creditors, including the Peruvian government, could have opted to close the cash-strapped company immediately and dismiss its roughly 3,000 workers.
The decision means Doe Run Peru’s smelter in the central Peruvian city of La Oroya, one of the world’s most polluted places, will remain shuttered, while operations at the company’s Cobriza mine may continue, the president of the creditors’ board, Diego Calmet, said.
He added that the company’s restructuring plan would have “implied the resumption of operations” at La Oroya without its having completed an environmental clean-up program.
“If the plant is restarted at this time, the level of pollution would be above the legal limit,” Calmet said.
He said, however, that Doe Run Peru has up to a year to submit a new plan that, if approved, would allow it to restart operations at La Oroya.
Doe Run Peru President Juan Carlos Huayhua said the board’s decision was “regrettable,” while the company’s workers also criticized the creditors’ rejection of the restructuring plan and announced they will hold a protest in La Oroya, located 185 kilometers (115 miles) east of Lima.
Doe Run Peru had at one point pledged to resume operations in May at the La Oroya smelter, shuttered three years ago due to the company’s financial woes and failure to comply with environmental clean-up requirements.
But Renco Group recently pushed back the restart date and, as part of the restructuring plan rejected Thursday, called on the Peruvian government to assume responsibility for third-party claims filed in U.S. courts over pollution in the city. EFE