Peruvian protests spread in October

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Peru's ombudsman office, known as the Defensoría del Pueblo, said the number of protests in the country climbed in October from the previous month, leaving at least one dead and six injured, while the number of social conflicts was unchanged.

The number of protests rose to 184 from 172 in September, the office said. Protests were staged against China Minmetals' US$8.3bn Las Bambas copper project in Apurímac and Newmont Mining's Yanacocha gold mine in Cajamarca. Communities oppose modifications to an environmental impact study at Las Bambas and work on the El Perol reservoir at Yanacocha, the office said.

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Communities in Ayacucho, Arequipa and Apurímac protested against Hochschild Mining unit Minera Ares' exploration work, while villagers also opposed work by Exploraciones Andinas in Ayacucho and informal mining in Puno.

Employees of the former Doe Run Perú La Oroya zinc-lead smelter in Junín also demanded the metallurgical complex be reopened.

At least 24 people have died in protests over the past 12 months, according to the report.

Two new conflicts were reported, maintaining the total steady at 214. The conflicts include opposition to exploration work by Exploraciones Mineras in Ayacucho, the agency said in a statement. Two conflicts were resolved, neither of them mining-related.

Active conflicts were unchanged at 151 (70.6% of the total), the office said. Of the 147 socio-environmental conflicts recorded, 94 (63.9%) were related to the mining sector, and about one-quarter were focused in the highland regions of Áncash, Apurímac and Puno.

At least 76 conflicts were in a process of dialogue, 51 of them involving the ombudsman's office, it said.

Social conflicts are expected to increase as the campaign gets underway for elections, which generally are held in two rounds in April and June, according to NGOs and the national society of mining, petroleum and energy (SNMPE).