Officials from Peru’s mining chamber confirmed 14 March that operations at Southern Copper’s Cuajone copper operation is nearing the end of its second week with operations idled due to protesters who have blocked a key transport artery.
According to a Reuters report that has cited Sociedad Nacional de Minera Petroleo y Energia’s (SNMPA) statement in Spanish, the regulatory group has condemned the violence on both sides of the issue. Local communities, it noted, have cut off the camp’s access to water and also created a blockade of a key railroad.
Water has now been unavailable to Cuajone since 28 February, the day the suspension of operations began. In a statement the same day, Southern Copper called the action “an attack on the life and health” of its workers.
“The refusal of residents to restore water supply to Cuajone and free the railroad prevent[s] us from resuming operations at the mine,” Southern Copper added on 13 March.
Reuters said protesters are demanding $5 billion in compensation as well as a share of 5% of the company’s profits.
Peru is the second largest copper producer in the world, and a crucial tax revenue source. The news service said that residents have been increasingly protesting, stating that mines cause pollution without contributing enough to the local economy.
Cuajone is not the only operation in the country to be hit with protests; an access road at MMG’s Las Bambas copper operation has been blocked since 1 March by local residents demanding the company financially contribute to the region.