The giant Las Bambas copper mine has stated that it intends to restart its copper output after operations on the mine were suspended in late December, due to a blockade by local community activists that prevented the mine from transporting its copper production to a seaport.

Las Bambas operations manager Edgardo Orderiqu said: “Given this agreement, we are going to give all the necessary notices to resume operations. The entire cycle takes between five to six days.”e.

Community outrage

The Las Bambas mine had been a flashpoint for protests by the Chumbivilcas community, with blockades hitting the key road on and off for over 400 days since the mine began operations in 2016.

The protest movement was bolstered by the election of the leftist Pedro Castillo to the presidential office in July 2021. However, the suspension has proved damaging for the administration, which greatly relies on mining revenue but also pledged to prioritise demands from marginalised communities.

In the minutes of a meeting between Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez, local residents, and company executives, it was acknowledged that despite the end to the blockade, the government has yet to address the primary concern of the local residents. The community has been adamant about Las Bambas hiring members to drive copper trucks and provide cash contributions to support local infrastructure.

These issues are to be reviewed again at a later date. However, without addressing these concerns, further blockades are a real and inherent possibility. Chumbivilcas residents had agreed in October not to block the road after government-mediated talks but blocked it regardless in November after talks had stalled.

In response to concerns, Orderique said: “Everybody has committed to reach an agreement, and now we believe reaching a sustainable deal, that will enable the company to restart operations”.