By Valentine Hilaire
(Reuters) – Southern Copper (NYSE:) Corp said on Wednesday that its Peruvian mine remains closed after six weeks of a standoff with protesters, accusing Peru’s government of failing to intervene to guarantee security for its 1,300 workers and their families.
A recent deal aimed at ending protests at the Cuajone mine required the company to withdraw complaints against protest leaders, amid a continuing blockade of its railway to transport minerals and supplies, the company said in a statement. Production has been suspended since Feb. 28.
Peru’s Energy Ministry said in a separate statement that it had also reached an agreement with Southern Copper to start talks to find common ground with local communities.
“If we closed for a year, the government would stop receiving more than 3.1 billion soles ($830 million) in taxes and royalties, and 8,000 direct and indirect jobs would be lost. That’s what we want to avoid,” the Southern Copper statement added.
Peru is facing a wave of protests from indigenous communities that accuse mining firms of not providing enough jobs and money to impoverished locals.
Central bank official Adrian Armas said last week that protests hitting copper mines such as MMG’s Las Bambas and Southern Copper’s Cuajone are weighing down the economy.
Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer and mining is a key source of tax revenue.
Protests hit several mining companies in Peru when leftist President Pedro Castillo took office last July after winning the election with support from the country’s impoverished mining regions.
($1 = 3.7330 soles)