LIMA (Reuters) – MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines, said on Thursday that it does not have any pending commitments with Andean communities that have blocked the road used by the company to transport the mineral.
Residents from the province of Cotabambas, where Las Bambas is located, have blocked the road since Monday, following failed negotiations with the country’s government and with MMG, alleging the mine has failed to honor commitments.
Las Bambas and the surrounding communities agreed to several commitments by the company in order to allow the mine to operate in the area since 2016. But over time the communities have said the mine has repeatedly fallen short in honoring them.
“Las Bambas does not believe it has pending commitments … with the province of Cotambas,” Las Bambas said on Thursday in a statement.
Local residents are also demanding the presence in the area of leftist President Pedro Castillo, who won overwhelming support in Andean mining regions in Peru.
Peru is the world’s second copper producer and Las Bambas is the country’s fourth largest copper mine.
Las Bambas has faced significant local opposition since it started operating five years ago.
Cotabambas residents have often blocked the dirt road, known in Peru as the ‘mining corridor,’ used to transport the metal onto a port in protest.
Las Bambas said just this year the mining corridor has been blocked 58 days, affecting the transport of copper, supplies and of staff members.
Victor Limaypuma, the President of the local Cotabambas Defense Front, told Reuters on Thursday that it is “absolutely false” that Las Bambas has honored all its commitments with the region, although he did not specify which ones need to be addressed.
Limaypuma added that the road blockade will continue until further notice and requested the presence of Castillo in the area.
Las Bambas called on protesters in its statement to stop the blockade and engage in dialogue to avoid affecting the mine’s sales, which in turn affects the amount of royalties that Las Bambas contributes to local governments.
It said Las Bambas has contributed $354 million locally since 2016 in royalties.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun and Marco Aquino; Editing by Sandra Maler)