Protesters in Peru block key road to Las Bambas copper mine

LIMA (Reuters) - Residents of Andean communities in Peru have blocked a key road to MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine for the past week, forcing the Chinese-owned company to use an alternate route, the country’s ombudsman’s office said on Monday.

The residents say the road passes through their lands and want the company to pay them for using it, said Artemio Solar, the head of the ombudsman’s office in the region of Apurimac where the mine is located.

Las Bambas spokesman Domingo Drago confirmed the company was using an alternate route but said it had not affected its shipments of copper concentrates.

Three local residents protesting Las Bambas were killed in clashes with police in September last year when the mine was still being built.

Peru is on track to become the world’s second biggest copper producer this year because of rising production from Las Bambas and other new copper mines that has been driving economic growth.

The mine, which began production late last year, produced about 32,900 tonnes of copper in June.

Reporting by Mitra Taj and Teresa Cespedes; Editing by Peter Cooney