Peru will not 'impose' mining projects on communities: prime minister

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LIMA (Reuters) - The government of new Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said on Wednesday it would not “impose” mining projects on nearby communities that object to them, but would seek to promote mining investments to take advantage of improved mineral prices.

In the past decade, Southern Copper Corp and Newmont Mining Corp have shelved proposed mines in Peru because of opposition from communities worried about the environmental impact - one of the biggest hurdles to building mines in the world’s No. 2 copper producer.

Peruvian Prime Minister Cesar Villanueva said the government would encourage mining but only approve projects that respect the environment and have support from communities.

“We’re not going to impose any mining project without communities feeling at ease first ... that’s what dialogue is for,” Villanueva told a news conference when asked if the government would approve Southern Copper’s $1.4 billion Tia Maria project this year.

Southern Copper did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Arizona-headquartered company, controlled by Grupo Mexico, suspended Tia Maria in 2015 to calm protests by farmers that had turned deadly.

But Southern Copper said last year it expected the government to grant a construction permit for Tia Maria in 2018.

Peru has a $58.5 billion pipeline of mining projects, according to the Energy and Mines Ministry.

Reporting by Marco Aquino and Mitra Taj; Editing by Richard Chang and Peter Cooney