Violent clashes between protesters and the police near MMG’s Las Bambas took the lives of four local farmers. According to reports in Peruvian newspapers, locals believe that changes have been made to the project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) without consulting the surrounding communities. A provincial strike was called on Friday, September 25. Protests erupted in Peru’s Apurimac region and quickly spread to several other provinces.
On Monday, September 28, protest activity escalated and police involvement increased. A number of protestors and police officers suffered injuries. On Tuesday, September 29, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala suspended constitutional rights in the region surrounding Las Bambas and sent additional military and police forces to the site to restore order. While tensions remain high, the situation has currently eased.
According to MMG, the protests were led by representatives from outlying communities, who were expressing concern about aspects of the “approved EIA” as well as a number of political and social issues relevant to the broader region.
“Our sympathies are with the families and loved ones of those deceased and injured,” said Andrew Michelmore, CEO, MMG. “Our focus remains on ensuring the safety of the people located at the site and the local community, as well securing the site itself. As a result, late stage commissioning activities are now suspended.
“Clearly our preference is for those organizing these protests to stop the violence, respect the orders of the military and police and to speak with us. The Las Bambas team has maintained positive dialogue with the Cotabambas and Grau communities of Apurimac for 10 years of project development. We have, and will continue, to provide significant social benefits, while protecting the environment and heritage of this region of Peru.”