Opponents Of Newmont Mine Eye Peru's 2016 Presidential Election
05/21/2012| 11:21am US/Eastern
Gregorio Santos, one of the main opponents of Newmont Mining Corp.'s (>> Newmont Mining Corporation) Minas Conga copper and gold project, has announced the creation of a new political group that plans to take part in Peru's 2016 presidential election.
Santos, who is currently the president of northern Peru's Cajamarca region, led protests against Minas Conga last year that resulted in the company suspending the project.
Opposition to Minas Conga is based on concerns that the project will harm the supply of water for the local population. Newmont and the national government have rejected those claims, saying that the project will increase the supply of water to nearby residents.
Santos said during an interview with RPP radio on Monday that the party's platform would include a change to Peru's constitution and the country's current economic model.
"The state has to have a role as a planner of the economy," Santos said. "There needs to be a bigger state presence."
Prime Minister Oscar Valdes said that the announcement from Santos shows that opposition to Minas Conga has been largely politically motivated, rather than over environmental concerns.
"Now is the time that citizens in general organize and oppose these false environmentalists that don't want progress for the population," state news agency Andina reported Valdes saying.
Minas Conga is Peru's biggest private-sector investment project, requiring an investment of $4.8 billion. Analysts and industry officials say that if the project doesn't go ahead, it would affect Peru's investment climate.
Newmont has a 51.35% stake in Minas Conga. Compania de Minas Buenaventura SA (BVN, BUENAVC1.VL) owns 43.65% and the International Finance Corp. has the remaining 5% interest.
Peru is a major global producer of copper, gold, silver and zinc, among other minerals.
-By Ryan Dube, Dow Jones Newswires; 51-945 043 802; firstname.lastname@example.org