The Tia Maria copper project, in in the southern Islay province of Peru’s Arequipa region, has been dubbed as a “no go” by Finance Minister Pedro Franke.
“Tía María has already gone through three or four waves of community and governmental attempts of repression and death. I don’t think it’s appropriate to try again if you’ve already crashed into a wall of social resistance once, twice, three times,” Francke told local media this week. Newly elected President Pedro Castillo had singled out the Tia Maria project as a non-starter under his administration.
The project includes mining the La Tapada (425Mt of oxidised copper ore grading 0.43%) and Tía María (225Mt of oxidised copper ore grading 0.29%) open pit deposits, according to the Energy and Mines Ministry. The deposits contain an estimated total reserve of 711 million tonnes of ore, graded at 0.36% copper.
Operated by the Southern Peru Copper Corporation, Peru’s previous administration had approved its licence in 2019, which triggered large protests. The construction of the project has been faced by numerous protests since it was first announced in 2010.
Construction was halted in 2011 and again in 2015, with troops deployed following weeks of violent protest that led to the deaths of several protesters. The main concern of residents is that the mine will ruin the environment and damage agriculture in the area.
The announcement by Franke has led to some condemnations from industry members.
Former Deputy Minister of Mines Rómulo Mucho told RPP Radio that Francke’s statements are “disastrous for investments and confirm the lack of confidence the executive branch generates in investors”. Asserting rather “the government should make an effort to advance the project,” despite the opposition of a sector of the population.
The former president of the mining, petroleum and energy society, Carlos Gálvez, told BNamericas that “ideology and laziness win [the government] over”. Francke’s statements come as opposition dropped substantially and community residents want the job opportunities that Tía María offers, he said.