May 21, 2019 / 3:01 PM / 4 months ago

China's MMG says Las Bambas copper operations not disrupted, talks ongoing

LIMA (Reuters) - Chinese miner MMG Ltd’s operations at its Las Bambas mine, one of Peru’s largest copper producers, have not been disrupted and talks with an indigenous Peruvian community are ongoing, the miner said on Wednesday.

The Fuerabamba community had imposed a new road blockade on the mine after talks with the company over compensation broke down, Americo Contreras, a representative of the public ombudsman office told Reuters on Tuesday.

The community started the blockade after the talks ended without a solution late on Monday, Contreras said by phone, citing a document from government officials who had mediated the negotiations.

“For now Yavi Yavi is blocked and the mining company has decided not to transport its minerals,” he said, referring to the area of farmland which the road passes through.

A spokeswoman for MMG in Melbourne, Australia, however, said that talks with the Nueva Fuerabamba community are continuing, with a community assembly held on Tuesday in Yavi Yavi.

“MMG did not truck via the Yavi Yavi route (on Tuesday) while the assembly was underway. The community is not currently blocking traffic and we look forward to continuing the important dialogue process,” she said.

The Fuerabamba community blocked MMG from transporting Las Bambas’ copper concentrates using a road on its farmland for more than two months earlier this year, which severely disrupted exports from the mine.

Las Bambas, one of Peru’s biggest mines, churns out about 400,000 tonnes of copper per year, or about 2 percent of global production.

The community struck an agreement with MMG in April, leading to the blockade being lifted.

According to notes from the meeting shared with Reuters, the company had rejected the community’s demands as “exorbitant” and “unfeasible,” and the blockade would be resumed pending further response from the miner and the central government.

Representatives for Fuerabamba and Las Bambas could not immediately be reached for comment to confirm the new blockade was in place.

Reporting By Mitra Taj in LIMA and Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Marguerita Choy and Tom Hogue

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