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Farmers opposed to the Tia Maria open-pit copper mine march in protest in Cocachacra, Peru. Farmers opposed to the Tia Maria open-pit mine, which they fear will contaminate irrigation water in the farming-rich Tambo valley, march in Cocachacra, Peru, May 15, 2015 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

As Anti-Mining Protests Escalate, Peru’s Vizcarra Sides With Mining Companies

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019

In mid-October, Peruvian authorities declared a 30-day state of emergency in the copper-rich province of Chumbivilcas, where anti-mining protesters had blocked a stretch of a vital highway called the Southern Runway for almost a month. The blockade, led by indigenous farmers and laborers known as comuneros, caused major disruptions to local commerce and large-scale mining efforts nearby, and nearly forced a halt in operations at Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines.

It was just the latest in a series of anti-mining protests by comuneros in Peru this year, which have held up hundreds of millions of dollars in copper exports and forced the Peruvian government into contentious negotiations over indigenous land rights and environmental concerns. The world’s No. 2 copper producer with reserves estimated at 83 million tons, Peru is highly dependent on copper exports, which generated $12 billion in 2017, more than a quarter of its total exports that year, according to data tabulated by the Observatory of Economic Complexity. ...

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