Peru Government, Anti-Mining Activists Advance Negotiations
06/22/2012| 12:30pm US/Eastern
LIMA--Peru's executive branch and anti-mining activists reached an agreement late Thursday to form three negotiating groups aimed at allowing mining to proceed in the Espinar region of southern Peru.
Four cabinet ministers met with local politicians and community activists who had led recent anti-mining protests, aiming to defuse tensions tied to the mining operations of Anglo-Swiss company Xstrata PLC (>> Xstrata PLC).
The three groups will focus on environmental issues, social responsibility, and development and production.
Protesters in Espinar had accused Xstrata's Tintaya copper mine of contaminating water. The company has rejected that accusation.
"We won't be content if the process of dialogue remains stuck with half-measures," said Environment Minister Manual Pulgar-Vidal. "We call on all cabinet ministers and Xstrata to take part in the next meetings, and to take part in solving the problems facing the population."
He said he would talk with President Ollanta Humala and Prime Minister Oscar Valdes about lifting a state of emergency the government imposed on the Espinar region following the violent protests in which two protesters died.
Meanwhile, clashes between police and protesters continued late Thursday in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru. Protesters there want Minera Yanacocha to stop work on its $4.8 billion Minas Conga copper and gold project.
Violent protests have stalled work on the project, while owner Newmont Mining Corp. (>> Newmont Mining Corporation) decides whether to proceed. A group of three international experts has proposed making some changes to improve the project.
Newmont has said that so far there are no official announcements about its plan for the project.
Development of the Minas Conga project is seen as key to strengthening Peru's investment climate. Peru is one of the world's largest producers of precious and base metals, and it has a number of large-scale projects on the drawing board.
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