The long-running disruption in the whole of the southern mining corridor continues. Last week, eight communities from Chumbivilcas and Espinar declared an indefinite strike against MMG (the company developing the Las Bambas copper mine) and the national government, expressing their frustration at the lack of progress on environmental issues.
The strike has led to blockages of the national highway and, yet again, to suspension of copper shipments. As we went to press, the strike was continuing. Although the police have enforced the re-opening of the road, the company has not resumed transport of minerals.
The issues go back to the failure of MMG to pursue adequate procedures in revising their environmental impact assessment (EIA). This subsequently gave rise to many complaints over the pollution and damage by the movement of vehicles.
A landmark event was the report of the Environmental Evaluation and Control Agency (OEFA) in October. After a three-month study, OEFA found that the company was in the wrong over regulations regarding air, noise, land and water pollution, and it required the company to revise its EIA and implement such common-sense measures such as spraying water in advance of the passage of trucks.
The communities are still unhappy with MMG’s response. They also oppose the declaration of the road under discussion, the so-called ‘Southern Runway’, as a national highway. This significantly reduces their ability to claim transit fees for the use of the road. The Vizcarra government has responded in the past by declaring states of emergency along the route between Las Bambas and ports in Arequipa region to try and control protest.