S. Copper’s Peru project meets stiff resistance

* Farmers block key highway to derail project

* Govt: miner didn’t do enough to win community support

By Teresa Cespedes

LIMA, April 15 (BestGrowthStock) – Peru’s government told angry
farmers on Thursday that Southern Copper would not take their
water, but blamed the miner for failing to win community
support to avert a protest against its Tia Maria mine project.

Farmers and ranchers, worried they will lose access to
water on the dry western slopes of the Andes, have blocked
Peru’s main highway in a bid to derail a public meeting on
April 19 that Southern Copper must hold to get approval for its
environment impact study.

Police have used tear gas to break up the mob, which set a
roadblock on Wednesday near the town of Islay, some 621 miles
(1,000 km) south of Lima, the capital.

“The ministry will not approve even a drop of water from
the Tambo Valley. This should be very clear,” Mines and Energy
Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters, referring to the area
where people plant their crops.

Sanchez said Tia Maria, which needs $934 million in
investments and would produce 120,000 tonnes a year starting in
late 2011, also would not take land away from farmers.

The minister blamed both sides for the standoff.

Protesters “have a clear agenda … which is simply to say
no to mining,” he said, calling them intransigent.

At the same time, he said Southern Copper, one of the
world’s biggest miners of the red metal, should have done more
to build community support.

“This is a them that should have been done better and
needs to be done better. It’s nothing new, in this country
there are other companies that do it well and have been able to
advance their projects successfully,” he said.
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(Reporting de Teresa Cespedes, Writing by Terry Wade; Editing
by David Gregorio)

S. Copper’s Peru project meets stiff resistance