Communities along the so-called corridor minero in southern Peru are stepping up their campaign against the Chinese-owned MMG Corporation over the environmental damages they suffer. New communities have announced their support for protest moves.

The corredor minero stretches through Apurímac, Cusco and Arequipa and is some 500 km in length. The major projects already in production and within the corridor are Las Bambas (MMG), Cerro Verde ((Freeport McMoran), Antapaccay (Glencore) and Constancia (Hudbay).

The specific issues that initiated the current road blockages are leading to more widespread protest as time goes on. The deep concerns behind the protest are shared by many communities. Each week, it seems, more communities are coming out on indefinite strike, most recently the districts of Coyabamba, Yaurisque and in Paccarectambo in the cusqueño province of Paruro.

The issues around Las Bambas have recently focussed on opposition to the OEFA findings announced at the end of September.

OEFA, the government organ responsible for assessing environmental impacts, is very critical of MMG, the company operating Las Bambas. It is requiring it to install dust suppressors in the towns that surround the road used by its trucks and to spray water prior to the trucks’ passage to reduce the impact of dust. The company has also been urged to stop using the road that connects the towns of Velille and Ccapacmarca between 6pm and 5am, a measure to be monitored by the environmental authority in real-time through GPS devices installed on the vehicles.

However, protestors claim that the OEFA findings, critical as they are of the company, fail to take into account the true impact of the use of the road, through dust, vibration and contamination. The protest is evolving into a total rejection of trucks using the road.

MMG, meanwhile, is warning that production will shortly be affected if the blockages continue. On 7 October, the long-awaited public hearing was held by the Mining Council, to consider the appeals (‘recursos’) made formally by the regional government of Arequipa and others, challenging the legality of the granting of the construction licence for the project. The Council will present its ruling within 15 working days.