Kuczynski eager to spur mining industry back into action

Peru’s recently installed President has shared his interest in restarting the work on Tia Maria copper mine, which was halted following protests by local residents.

In talks with the press, the recently elected President of Peru, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski expressed a stern desire to get the mining sector back on track. He also said that there is a lot of pessimism surrounding the consequences of large mining projects, and that it is his intention to address these social concerns while he gets the industry back on track.

Part of his plan to get mining back into the fold is to restart the Tia Maria copper mine, currently operated by Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Grupo México, the third largest copper miner in the world.

The Tia Maria project, was set to begin operations in Peru’s southern coast, in the Arequipa province, but due to considerable protests and concerns it has been impossible to finalize its construction.

The mine, when completed, is set to produce in excess of 120 thousand tons of copper annually, an investment of over $1.4 billion USD. Additionally, during its construction it is estimated to generate some 3500 jobs.

Still, many believe the cost of getting the mine up and running far exceeds the benefits. Protests have been breaking out around the project since 2009, when the first environmental assessment of Tia Maria was released. In it, the United Nations Office for Project Services raised several red flags over the project’s negative environmental consequences, which include contamination of bodies of water and soil degradation.

Because of the protests, in which 4 people died, and several others were injured, construction in Tia Maria was halted indefinitely in 2011.

In 2015, the project was set to be restarted, but alas, protests followed, and left 3 dead and hundreds of others injured.
Now, Kuczynski faces a disjunctive on the matter. Getting the project started once more would undoubtedly be an unpopular move, but it will yield considerable reward. Additionally, more recent studies suggest there are many was to mitigate the mine’s negative environmental effects, even if there is no way to completely eliminate its environmental footprint.

However, Kuczynski’s plans include meeting up with the local residents, those most directly affected by the Tia Maria projects, and hear their concerns. Alongside his contact with residents he is interested in intensifying social investments in the region as well.

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