Indigenous people in Peru will keep protesting against China-owned miner MMG Ltd. to stop it from using a highway on their community’s farmland, preventing the company from transporting copper from its Las Bambas mine to port, an attorney for the community said on Monday.
The protesters have blocked the road for nearly a week.
Attorney Carlos Vargas said the community, Nueva Fuerabamba, plans to continue protesting until MMG’s senior officials in Peru agree to talk about providing compensation for use of the highway.
Vargas accused the company of building the road on Nueva Fuerabamba’s property without consulting the community, and said the government illegally turned it into a state highway in May.
MMG, the international mining unit of China’s state-owned China Minmetals Corp., did not respond to requests for comment outside regular business hours at its headquarters in Australia.
Peru’s energy and mines ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
A source with MMG’s local unit said the company’s Las Bambas mine has not transported copper concentrates to the Pacific port of Matarani since Wednesday, but production at the mine has not been affected, said the source, who was not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity.
Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines, produced about 190,000 tons of copper in the first six months of 2018, according to government data. Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer.
The protests mark the latest conflict stemming from Las Bambas’ decision to transport its copper over unpaved roads instead of through a pipeline as initially planned by the mine’s previous owner, Switzerland’s Glencore Plc.
Indigenous farming communities in the region have raised safety and health concerns about heavy dust churned up by hundreds of trucks used by Las Bambas every day.
Clashes between protesters and authorities left four local men dead in 2015 and 2016. Protesters blocking roads in 2016 suspended Las Bambas’ shipments of copper from Matarani and nearly halted its operations.
Nueva Fuerabamba was the only community relocated to make way for Las Bambas, which was built in 2016. Community members have said the company did not deliver all it promised in a deal that gave them a new town near the mine and farmland in a neighboring region.
In June, Nueva Fuerabamba filed a lawsuit against the company at a local court, seeking 150 million ($46 million soles) and the annulment of its relocation agreement with the company on the grounds that it contained fake signatures, said Frank Chavez, another attorney for the community.