(Reuters) – Police in Peru fired tear gas and rubber bullets on Tuesday at opponents of Southern Copper’s $1.4 billion proposed Tia Maria mine in protests that threatened to further delay the project.
The company said early last month that it expected to receive a building permit by the end of March following the government’s key approval of its environmental plan last year. Peru had rejected Southern Copper’s first environmental plan amid a wave of protests that turned deadly in 2011.
Protesters on Tuesday called for the government to nix the project because they say it will pollute agricultural valleys, said rice farmer and activist Juan Carrasco, 58. “We’re going to keep protesting tomorrow and everyday until Tia Maria leaves,” Carrasco said.
Three protesters were wounded and two arrested in the clashes in Peru’s southern region of Arequipa, said local police chief Enrique Blanco. TV images showed police firing tear gas at a crowd on a highway and protesters running into nearby fields.
Blanco said between 600 and 700 protesters, mostly women, took part in the march on Tuesday – the second day of protests. Carrasco said there were at least 3,000.
The Interior Ministry said it had sent 2,000 police to the region ahead of the protest to control potential unrest.
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