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The unanimous decision will halt the project for 120 days as the review appeals filed against the mining project are resolved.
Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines confirmed Friday that the Mining Council decided to suspend United States Southern Copper’s license for 120 days until it analyzes three appeals against the contested ‘Tia Maria’ open-pit mining project.
The unanimous decision, as explained by the Minister of Energy and Mines, Francisco Ismodes, will halt the project as long as the review appeals filed against the mining project are resolved. Then the government agency will issue a final ruling.
The appeals were presented by the Regional Governor of Arequipa, the Association of Defense of Workers and Minority Shareholders of the Chucarapi Pampa Blanca Sugar Mill and the Tambo Valley Users Board, as part of a 26-day indefinite strike led by farmers, workers, and local organizations in the region of Arequipa.
On Aug. 4, President Martin Vizcarra deployed the army to "maintain order" in Matarani, a port city in the Arequipa department. Left-wing lawmakers and teleSUR’s correspondent reported on the repression led by security forces against protestors.
#Perú La suspensión de la licencia de construcción del proyecto minero #TiaMaria es por 120 días según resolución emitida hoy por el gobierno. Movimientos sociales de Arequipa se reúnen para debatir si mantienen o levantan protestas pic.twitter.com/efCuAu2cpg
After the suspension of the license was announced Friday, social organizations of Arequipa met to discuss whether they maintain or end protests.
The copper mining project is categorically rejected by farmers, labor unions and social organizations of the central region of Tambo and the southern Islay province, amid fears of negative effects on agriculture there, which exports large quantities of its fruits and vegetables.
Citizens more generally are worried about the environmental damage the mine will create. The release of chemical substances such as cyanide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide can cause great changes in the environment of the region destroying forests and polluting water.
According to energy sector experts, if the company’s environmental permit expires they would have to ask for another license, restarting a complicated and long approval process, meaning another waiting period of several months, or years, until the government reviews a new environmental impact study.
The corporation has spent years waiting for the construction license that past governments refused to give after the deadly protests that first derailed the project eight years ago. The mine is expected to produce 120,000 tons of high-grade copper per year for 18 years, with an investment of US$ 1.4 billion.
Peru is the second-largest producer of copper in the world and its mining industry makes up 60 percent of its exports.