Vandalism, Protest Blockade Halts Work at Peru’s Yanacocha Gold Mine

Newmont Mining Corp. halted work at its giant Yanacocha gold mine on Monday after protesters blocked an access road and torched eight pieces of earth-moving equipment, prompting the company to ask Peru’s government to intervene.

The mine, partly owned by Peruvian precious metals miner Buenaventura, said the drastic measure to suspend work was taken to ensure the safety of its employees.

The latest flare-up could test leftist President Ollanta Humala, who took office in July promising to calm conflicts between rural communities and companies. The conflicts have threatened to delay some 200 mining and oil projects nationwide.

“We’ve temporarily suspended work,” Yanacocha said in a statement in which it “called on local and national authorities to do what is necessary to clear the roadblock and maintain a climate of peace and legality in the region.”

Yanacocha, one of Latin America’s largest gold mines, produced 1.5 million ounces of gold in 2010, some 1.6 percent of the world’s output.

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