Community support will play the key role in Vancouver-based Bear Creek Mining (TSX-V: BCM) regaining its concession to the Santa Ana silver project in Peru's Puno region, which the government cancelled last year, CEO Andrew Swarthout told BNamericas.
"I think it's safe to say that we're not going to get the project back unless there is demonstrable community support," Swarthout said, adding that he is relatively confident that the company will eventually get the concession back.
In June 2011, amidst an outbreak of violent anti-mining protests in Puno region that left six dead, the government of then President Alan García revoked Bear Creek's Santa Ana concession , along with those of all other miners in a 50km radius of the protest area.
The government also filed a lawsuit against Bear Creek in 2011, which is now in the process of appeal, and Bear Creek in turn filed a constitutional claim against the government regarding the concession revocation, "which will probably get an initial result in a few months," the company's COO, Marc Leduc, said earlier this month at a mining conference held by Scotiabank.
"I think the decision is really going to be based on the overall acceptance in the community," Swarthout said.
Since the June 2011 decree, Bear Creek has had to pull out all of its community programs, such as job training and school programs, which has been heavily felt within the community, according to the CEO.
Earlier this year, 17 community leaders from Santa Ana's surrounding communities travelled to Lima in order to express their concerns to the ministry of mines and energy over Bear Creek "evaporating from the area," Swarthout said.
The company remains in close contact with community members, however, it is unable to continue any of its community programs until the legal process regarding Santa Ana has been completed.
To read the interview with Andrew Swarthout, see this week's Mining Perspectives to be published on Friday, for subscribers only.