Residents lift blockade near Peru's Las Bambas copper mine

·2-min read

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) - Residents near MMG Ltd's Las Bambas copper mine in the Peruvian Andes lifted the blockade of a road used to transport the red metal after receiving overtures from the socialist government of President Pedro Castillo, community leaders said on Wednesday.

People in the Chumbivilcas region who make a living from agriculture have long demanded financial compensation for the use of the road and shut down transit on Monday in protest of environmental damage caused by the passage of mine vehicles.

Wilber Fuentes, president of the Chumbivilcas Defense Front, said residents lifted the blockade after receiving an invitation to meet with Prime Minister Guido Bellido on Saturday and the promise to begin roundtable talks on Aug. 28.

"Yes, we will lift the blockade due to this new proposal to resume talks on Saturday in the hopes of resolving our claims," ​​Fuentes told Reuters by telephone.

Resumption of the blockade earlier this week followed a two-week truce after Castillo's government promised to resolve the conflict.

Castillo has said he will prioritize the welfare of historically marginalized communities.

Representatives in Lima of Las Bambas, one of the country's largest copper mines, were not immediately available to comment on the matter.

MMG said earlier in a statement it seeks to work with the government and communities to advance development of the sprawling mine, where it hopes to produce 310,000 tons of copper this year - less than in previous years.

Australia-based MMG is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned enterprise China Minmetals Corp.

The conflict between indigenous agricultural communities and MMG's mine is long-standing, but it is an early test of Castillo's ability to resolve social unrest.

Peru is the world's second-largest producer of the red metal.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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