Key permit for copper project in Peru fuels fears of new round of unrest – by Marco Aquino (Reuters U.S. – July 10, 2019)

LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra’s decision to grant a green light for a long-delayed copper project is emerging as a key test of his ability to ease opposition to mining that has derailed billions in investments in the world’s No. 2 producer.

Opponents of Southern Copper Corp’s $1.4 billion proposed Tia Maria mine readied plans on Wednesday for an indefinite strike, a day after Vizcarra’s government granted the company a construction license that two of his predecessors had declined to issue.

Tia Maria is expected to add 120,000 tonnes of copper annually to Southern Copper’s production portfolio at the “very competitive cash cost” of $1 per pound, Moody’s Investors Service said.

Peru’s business community cheered the decision to grant the construction license, seeing it as a rare instance in which a mining project derailed by protests might be revived.

But in the southern Peruvian province of Islay, where at least six people have been killed in protests against the project this decade, it sparked anger and vows to stop it.

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