Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) — Protesters halted demonstrations that have paralyzed Peru’s biggest gold project and threatened billions of dollars in investment after President Ollanta Humala declared a state of emergency in the northern Andes.
Humala yesterday granted the armed forces extra powers for 60 days, including the right to arrest without a warrant in four provinces of the Cajamarca region after two weeks of clashes between police and protesters forced Newmont Mining Corp. to suspend the $4.8 billion Minas Conga gold project. The move came after talks between the government and demonstrators, who say the project threatens water supplies, broke down.
“It’s very positive that Humala is taking specific measures to maintain order and not let the situation get out of control,” said Isabel Darrigrandi, who covers Peruvian mining stocks for Celfin Capital SA in Santiago. “His major challenge is to support the mining industry and at the same time avoid alienating his base of support. There are groups among his base that have a very radical anti-mining position.”
Environmental protests this year by farmers halted projects by companies including Southern Copper Corp., Anglo American Plc and Bear Creek Mining Corp. Denver-based Newmont, the biggest U.S. gold producer, said it will seek talks with the government and communities opposing the project, Peru’s largest.