Exclusive: China-owned Las Bambas mine assesses plan to evict protesting communities

LAS BAMBAS, Peru, April 26 (Reuters) – The massive Las Bambas copper mine, owned by China’s MMG Ltd (1208.HK), in Peru is considering a plan to evict indigenous communities who have camped on ownership and forced production to shut down, according to an executive and a document seen by Reuters.

Under Peruvian civil law, landlords can attempt to evict intruders by force for the first 15 days after they move into the property. If that time has elapsed, they have to go through a longer legal process.

Residents of the communities of Fuerabamba and Huancuire entered the mine on April 14 and pitched tents inside the property, including near the mine’s huge open pit. Las Bambas, which produces 2% of the world’s copper, ceased operations on April 20.

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“It’s still being decided,” Las Bambas general affairs manager Carlos Castro said in a text message when asked about the eviction plan on Tuesday. “The defense of repossession may be exercised within the 15 days established by law.”

Restarting production at Las Bambas would add to global supply, which could drive prices down, although the mine has faced recurring disruptions from impoverished local communities demanding higher financial contributions from the mine.

According to a letter from Peru’s official mediator seen by Reuters, Las Bambas plans to attempt deportation on Wednesday.

The document, addressed to the Peruvian police chief, asks law enforcement to refrain from using violence if the eviction attempt takes place, given the presence of women, children and people elderly.

A government source confirmed the deportation had been discussed, but said a final decision is expected to be made on Wednesday. Peru is number one in the world. 2 copper producer.

On Tuesday, communities in Fuerabamba and Huancuire were preparing for possible eviction, community leaders told a Reuters reporter who visited the site. Rumors had been circulating throughout the day about a potential attempt.

The Fuerabamba community was resettled to make way for Las Bambas, one of the largest copper mines in the world, about a decade ago. The Huancuire community sold land in Las Bambas.

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Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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