Peru approves expansion of Las Bambas copper mine despite protests

Peru communities reject latest proposal to end Las Bambas mine conflicts
People march with signs reading "No to environmental contamination" and "Farming community of Huascabamba" as community leaders rejected a government proposal to prevent future blockades affecting the Las Bambas copper mine, in Sayhua, Peru January 17, 2022. REUTERS/Sebastian Castaneda

SAO PAULO, March 24 (Reuters) - MMG Ltd (1208.HK) on Thursday said it has secured approval from Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines to expand its Las Bambas copper mine despite ongoing outrage from local indigenous communities.

Located in the Apurimac region of southern Peru, the Chinese-owned mine has been a flashpoint of protests and road blockades since it started operations in 2016, which have caused it to frequently curtail its operations.

The development will mainly be for the Chalcobamba pit and its associated infrastructure, the MMG statement said, adding that the expansion is expected to underpin a production increase at Las Bambas to around 380,000 to 400,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate per annum for the medium term.

According to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, an investment of $130 million is planned for the construction of the first phase of Chalcobamba.

The Chumbivilcas communities - mostly indigenous citizens of Quechua descent - have repeatedly accused the Chinese company of failing to provide jobs and money to the region, one of the poorest in Peru, despite the vast mineral wealth.

MMG said Las Bambas "looks forward to working with the community of Huancuire to begin development in the coming months."

Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer and Las Bambas produces 2% of the world’s supply of the red metal.

Reporting by Steven Grattan; Editing by Mark Porter and Jonathan Oatis

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