Protest blocks $530 mln worth of copper from MMG's Las Bambas mine in Peru -association

LIMA, Jan 5 (Reuters) - A three-week-long roadblock protest by locals has prevented Las Bambas mine in Peru, run by Australia-based MMG Ltd, from exporting 189,000 tonnes of copper concentrate, a mining association leader said on Tuesday.

Pablo de la Flor, executive director of the National Society of Mining, Oil and Energy, said the blockade of a road in Cusco region, 200 kilometers (124.3 miles)from the mine, had lasted for 24 days so far and prevented the export of copper concentrate worth $530 million. He warned that the company could start to halt production altogether in the coming days.

MMG, a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned enterprise China Minmetals Corp, last Thursday said the blockade had forced it to declare force majeure on some supply contracts. It said earlier in the week that if the protest continued it would progressively curtail output and carry out maintenance at the site instead.

The company did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Communities living around the mine have long complained about the lack of local benefits from the presence of Las Bambas and periodically block roads in protest. The mine is one of Peru’s largest copper producers, accounting for around 2% of global supply.

“What we’re seeing is an illegal act that prevents the free movement of workers, the bringing in of materials and taking out of goods from one of Peru’s most important mines which contributes 1% of the Gross Domestic Product,” de la Flor said.

MMG has said previously that blockades of public roads had disrupted its operations on 95 days of the last year.

The company has said it reached an agreement in September with the municipality of Velille to finance sustainable development projects for up to 1.25 million soles ($348,000) over two years, as well as making spot payments to families impacted by the effects of COVID-19. (Reporting by Maria Cervantes; Writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Bill Berkrot)