LIMA — The Peruvian government signed a meeting scheduled for Saturday with the indigenous communities protesting Las Bambas copper mine due to protest leaders taking too long to respond, Prime Minister Anibal Torres said in a document.
The document, dated Friday and seen by Reuters, was sent to the leaders of the Fuerabamba and Huancuire communities and stated that the government also had “logistical difficulties” and weather difficulties in traveling to the conflict zone. The letter proposed that the meeting be held on Tuesday.
Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of copper and the Chinese-owned Las Bambas supplies 2% of the world’s supply of that metal. The mine is key to the Peruvian economy, as it represents at least 1% of the Andean country’s gross domestic product.
Both indigenous communities had agreed on Friday to meet with government and mining representatives in a small community outside the current emergency zone. The prime minister’s office is also proposing Tuesday’s meeting be held in Tambobamba, a town farther east and closer to the city of Cuzco.
“We are accepting the meeting called for Tuesday, but we are telling (the prime minister) that the meeting be in Pumamarca, as a neutral zone,” Alexander Raul Anglas Quiroz, an adviser to the Huancuire community, told Reuters by telephone.
On April 27, the government declared a state of emergency in several areas surrounding the mine. The measure suspends civil liberties such as the right to assembly and protest. Police later tried to evict the protesters, but were unsuccessful.
Residents of the Fuerabamba and Huancuire communities broke in to part of the mine owned by China’s MMG Ltd on April 14, forcing Las Bambas to suspend operations. They allege that the mining company has not fulfilled the commitments it made to them. (Report by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun in Lima; Writing by Alexander Villegas Editing by Matthew Lewis)