LIMA, March 14 (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp (SCCO.N)'s Cuajone mine in Peru has suspended operations since Feb. 28 due to a protest by local communities who cut the company's water access and blocked a key railroad, Peru's mining chamber SNMPE said on Monday.
"The refusal of residents to restore water supply to Cuajone and free the rail road prevent us from resuming operations at the mine," Southern Copper said in a statement published on Sunday.
Peru is the world's No. 2 copper producer and mining is a key source of tax revenue. Residents of nearby communities have been increasingly protesting that mines cause pollution without contributing enough to the local economy.
Southern Copper is one of the country's top copper producer and Cuajone is the company's second largest mine in the country.
The company has denounced violence by the protesters while the government has denounced violence on both sides.
Last week, Peru's secretariat in charge of social conflicts said it lamented that Southern Copper's security had resorted to defending its possession of the water reservoir that supplies the firm, calling it "a step backwards in the efforts to achieve dialogue."
Meanwhile, Southern Copper said the water cut was an "attack on the life and health" of its workers at Cuajone. The government said residents had been controlling the water reservoir that supplies Cuajone since Feb. 28.
Reuters could not reach local residents for comment. The SNMPE said protesters were demanding $5 billion in compensation as well as a share of 5% of the company's profits.
Protests hit several large mining companies in Peru since leftist President Pedro Castillo took office in July after winning the election with overwhelming support in the country's impoverished mining regions.
The road used by MMG's (1208.HK) Las Bambas copper mine to transport its metal has been blocked since March 1 by residents who are demanding financial contributions from the firm.
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