* One dead, 20 injured in clash with police
* Mining project would require $1 billion
* Peru dogged by conflicts over natural resources
By Terry Wade and Marco Aquino
LIMA, April 5 Farmers opposed to Southern
Copper's $1 billion Tia Maria mine said on Tuesday they would
boycott Peru's presidential election unless the mining company
abandons its project and police stop attacking protesters.
Their demands came hours after a clash that killed one
protester and injured 20 and put new focus on widespread
conflicts over the control of Peru's natural resources ahead of
Sunday's election. Two presidential candidates urged calm.
The front-runner in the presidential race is a left-wing
nationalist, Ollanta Humala, who favors a greater role for the
state in tapping Peru's mineral resources.
Peru, one of the world's fastest-growing economies and a
major global minerals exporter, has lined up about $40 billion
in mining and oil projects for the next decade. But more than
100 rural towns have mobilized to stop projects they fear would
take scarce water supplies or cause pollution.
Clashes from nagging conflicts often turn deadly and
critics say the government has been an ineffective mediator.
More than 30 people died in 2009 when police broke up a protest
by indigenous groups in the Amazon opposed to oil and logging.
"We aren't going to vote unless the miner leaves our town,"
said Jaime de la Cruz of a citizens group in Islay, 620 miles
(1,000 km) south of Lima, the capital. Voting in Peru is
compulsory and people who refuse to vote can be fined.
"The government must understand we want to take care of our
own lives," he said on local TV.
Peru's mining ministry has tried for months to broker an
agreement by calling in an agency from the United Nations to
help evaluate the environmental impacts of the mine and telling
the miner to pump sea water up from the Pacific Ocean instead
of using local river water to help run its mine.
But a deal has not been struck and last week Southern
Copper's (SCCO.N) chief executive Oscar Gonzalez said he was
putting the project on hold for at least one year because of
the conflict. [ID:nN29299135]
Southern Copper, one of the world's largest copper
producers, is a unit of Grupo Mexico (GMEXICOB.MX).
"We need to be very careful," said former President
Alejandro Toledo, who is tied for second in the presidential
race. "We are sponsors of foreign and national investment. It
is welcome, but extractive companies don't have a blank check
to pollute rivers and forests."
Former Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, also tied in
second place behind Humala, called for restraint.
"I'm asking everyone for a one-month ceasefire so that an
agreement can be reached," Kuczynski said. "However, if at the
end of the day the people don't want a mine, then they won't
have a mine, so I ask for calm and unity."
Humala, who favors raising taxes on mining companies and
has said more natural resources should be put in the hands of
the state, has yet to comment on the farmers' demands.
For full campaign coverage see [ID:nVOTEPE], for factbox on
recent polls [ID:nPOLLSPE].
(Reporting by Terry Wade and Marco Aquino; editing by Anthony