Newmont halts $4.8 bln Peru mine work over protest

PAMPA VERDE, Peru, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Newmont Mining Corp
removed some workers and halted earth-moving work at its Conga
project in Peru on Thursday because of fears protesters would
invade it, an internal company email obtained by Reuters
showed.
At least 1,000 residents gathered in Pampa Verde, about 12
miles (20 km) down the road from the Conga site, to demand the
company abandon its $4.8 billion gold project, but there were
no reports by police of any clashes in the area.
Local community and political leaders worry Newmont’s project, which would be the biggest investment in the history of Peruvian mining, would cause pollution and sap water
supplies used by farmers.
Protesters are also urging the government to issue a decree
that would ban the project, which appears unlikely as the new
gold mine would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in
taxes and royalties for the central government.
Solving the Conga dispute is a crucial test for President
Ollanta Humala, who campaigned on promises to end widespread
conflicts over natural resources that have delayed billions of
dollars in mining and oil investment nationwide.
“We aren’t violent. We are peaceful, but when our rights
are ignored we must raise our voices to be heard,” Gregorio
Santos, president of the region of Cajamarca, told Reuters in
the town of Pampa Verde, 13,800 feet (4,200 meters) high in the
Andes.
But the U.S. company’s deputy project director for Conga,
Daniel Gignac, said some staff and equipment were being
relocated as a precaution “due to the serious risk of violence
by local political activists.” Despite the temporary move,
other work would continue normally at the Conga mining camp,
Gignac said in an email to staff viewed by Reuters.
An effort by three of Humala’s cabinet officials on
Wednesday to broker a truce between the local community and the
company failed, according to local leaders who participated in
the talks.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/03/peru-newmont-idUSN1E7A225K20111103

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