LIMA (Reuters) – Indigenous communities protesting the Las Bambas copper mine in Peru agreed on Friday to meet with government and company officials on Saturday about the dispute, which has forced the project’s temporary closure.
Owned and operated by China’s MMG Ltd, Las Bambas in southern Peru accounts for 2% of world copper output and is a significant contributor to Peru’s economy, accounting for about 1% of the country’s gross domestic product.
In a document seen by Reuters, the two protesting communities of Fuerabamba and Huancuire, whose members began camping on mine property in mid-April, confirmed they would attend talks. They propose these should take place outside the surrounding area where the government has declared a state of emergency.
The communities are protesting the company’s alleged failure to comply with its social investment commitments, allegations which MMG rejects.
“As a sign of a genuine desire for dialogue, we confirm our participation in the meeting,” leaders of the two communities wrote in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Anibal Torres.
Earlier this week, leaders of communities said they would not attend any meetings until the emergency declaration for the area around the mine was lifted, but Torres rejected that demand.
Last week, police attempted to evict Huancuire community members but were unsuccessful, while others from Fuerabamba were evicted days before.
Imposed in late April, the state of emergency suspended civil liberties including the rights to assemble and protest.
Fuerabamba was resettled a decade ago to make way for Las Bambas, but since then repeated protests and roadblocks have at times caused production at the lucrative mine to halt.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Carolina Pulice; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Cynthia Osterman)