Latin America & Caribbean

Peru anti-mining protest sees deadly clashes

A handout photo released by the Observatory of Mining Conflict of Peru shows hundreds of demonstrators during a protest against the copper mining project Las Bambas in Fuerabamba on 28 September 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thousands of protesters gathered at the Las Bambas mining project

At least three people in Peru were shot dead in a clash between police and locals protesting against a copper mine project in the Apurimac region.

Seventeen others, among them eight police officers, were injured during the clashes at Las Bambas mine project.

The project is owned by a consortium led by MMG, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Minmetals Corporation.

Its backers say that once completed, Las Bambas will be one of the top three copper mines in the world.

The MMG-led consortium bought the project from mining giant Glencore Xstrata in 2014.

Environmental fears

Locals fear the $7.4bn (£4.9bn) project will cause environmental damage to the Andean area.

They also want more locals to be hired to work at the mine.

An estimated 15,000 people took part in the protests, which started on Friday.

Peruvian authorities sent 1,500 police officers and 150 soldiers to the area.

MMG officials said that many of the protesters were not from the area, but anti-mining activists who had travelled there.

In a statement, MMG said it remained open to dialogue: "Las Bambas has demonstrated through the years its vast capacity for working with communities in the area of influence."

Lethal clash

Eyewitnesses said police had opened fire on the protesters as they tried to enter the mine.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The death of a protester at the Tia Maria mine fuelled protests there in May

Interior Minister Jose Luis Perez defended the officers' actions.

"Police used non-lethal weapons at the start, and then, to defend themselves, had to use lethal weapons," he told Peruvian television.

Peru is currently the third biggest producer of copper after Chile and China.

It is seeking to overtake China but has been hampered and delayed in its ambition by local opposition to the projects.

In May, troops were deployed to the Tia Maria mine in Peru's southern Arequipa region after a protester and a policeman died in violent clashes.

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