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12 Mär 2022

LUCIEN CHAUVIN, Nikkei Asia (Japan)

Peru: China's MMG races for deal to protect copper flow from Las Bambas mine amid protests

"China's MMG races for deal to protect copper flow from Peru mine" 12 March 2022

With copper prices at an all-time high, Chinese state-owned producer MMG is under the gun to work out a deal by the end of the month to keep supplies flowing from Las Bambas, a Peruvian mine which happens to be the biggest source of the crucial metal under Beijing's control anywhere in the world.

The mine, sited in the Andes Mountains geographically some 70 km southwest of the historic Incan capital of Cusco, generates 2% of world copper production -- when it is running.

But MMG, a Hong Kong-listed unit of China Minmetals, has found it harder and harder to keep up the flow, with annual output sliding since 2018. Amid political turmoil that has seen four presidential successions in Peru since then, community protests along the mountain roads from the mine have repeatedly disrupted production. [...]

The question now is how much it will cost MMG to quiet the protests.

"Benefits need to radiate over a larger area as part of the company's social engagement," said Cecilia Gonzales, a lawyer who advises mining companies as a partner at the firm CMS Grau in Lima.

"Communities want compensation for the areas that have been affected by the road," she said. "The logical impact will be an increase to the cost of investment." [...]