Peruvian indigenous mine protesters face violence from workers and police

·2-min read
Members of the Apurimac community have been occupying the Las Bambas mine for 47 days  (Reuters)
Members of the Apurimac community have been occupying the Las Bambas mine for 47 days (Reuters)

Tensions between a mining company and a Peruvian indigenous group occupying the site are rising as miners threaten to confront protesters.

Members of the Apurimac community took control of the Chinese-owned Las Bambas mine in the southern highlands of Peru 47 days ago and demanded compensation for the environmental and social impacts of the copper mine.

Now, miners, who are suffering financially, are threatening to confront the protesters. Las Bambas, directly and indirectly, employs more than eight thousand people.

“We don’t know how we are going to contain [the miners],” Erick Ramos, secretary of the Las Bambas Workers’ Union, told local media.

“They are willing to go and face the [protesters].

“Three thousand workers are already on the streets. How far do you want to exacerbate this problem?”

Edgar Lima, president of the Chila community, one of six communities that make up the Apurimac, said that a recent proposal from MMG, the Chinese company that operates the mine, is still being discussed – but they have little faith in the mine’s management.

Protesters accuse MMG, which contributes an average of per cent to Peru’s GDP through the project, has failed to meet its promises to the community. The government in Peru is attempting to broker a deal so operations can resume.

Lima said: “We do not understand each other.

“We have no confidence we can accept this proposal from the mining company, even more so when there is a history of breaching commitments.”

Last week the National Police injured three members of the Apurimac community and arrested 11. Two women and a worker were injured and taken to a clinic in the nearby town of Challhuahuacho, local media reports.

An MMG spokesperson said: “MMG welcomes the efforts of the Government of Peru to establish a dialogue that will lead to resuming the operations of Las Bambas, suspended since April 14 due to the illegal invasion of its land and which, after 42 days of the stoppage, has generated losses of nearly of (£317 million) in exports and more than (£174 million) in income for Peru and the Apurimac region.

“It should be remembered that the lack of will to reach an agreement among these communities puts 9,000 jobs at risk and more than 1,400 small and medium-sized companies in Cusco and Apurímac that provide goods and services for the Las Bambas mine.”

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