Copper mine protests spread in Peru, target Glencore and BHP's Antamina

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru’s Antamina copper and zinc mine, which is part-owned by Glencore and BHP Billiton, said on Tuesday that protesters had blocked a road it uses, demanding that the company honor its commitments to the local area.

FILE PHOTO: Residents block a road in a protest against Las Bambas mine in Apurímac. September 29, 2015. REUTERS

The demonstration is the latest in a string of protests against mining companies that have broken out since President Pedro Castillo took office in July.

A road leading to MMG Ltd's Las Bambas copper mine has been blocked here since last week by locals who also say the company has not honored its commitments. Further down the same road, another group of residents has placed a roadblock to protest Hudbay Minerals Inc's Constancia mine.

Earlier this month, a protest at another Glencore mine, Antapaccay, was lifted here after the mine and local residents agreed to begin talks on a new deal.

Those four mines account for over 40% of Peru’s copper production, according to official figures. Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer and produced 2.15 million tonnes in 2020.

Peru has seen rapid development in recent years, in part due to the mineral wealth from the industry. But many in rural communities in Peru's mining regions, who overwhelmingly here voted for Castillo, say they have yet to see many benefits.

Pablo de la Flor, the head of Peru’s mining industry group, said in a statement that it condemned “minority groups who carry out violent and illegal actions as a way of putting on pressure, threatening the rule of law and the social peace we need.”

On Tuesday, Antamina said that protesters had blocked a road 60 kilometers (37 miles) away from the mine, accusing the company of failing to honor commitments.

Reuters was unable to contact the protesters for comment.

The company denies the accusations and asked for fresh talks.

“Antamina calls for regional and national authorities to have us restart a dialogue in a context of social peace and mutual understanding,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, a community in Cuzco blocked a road used by the Constancia copper mine, according to the Mining Conflicts Observatory, a local nonprofit organization.

The road is also used by Las Bambas and has been blocked in another place since earlier this month by communities demanding the presence of Castillo to broker a deal with the company.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien