Updated 07:06 AM EDT, Thu, Apr 22, 2021

Copper Output in Peru Expected to Rise by 66 Percent

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Peru's copper output is expected to soar due to the huge Las Bambas project.

On Monday, the Peruvian government said that the country's copper production is expected to rise 65.5 percent in 2016 to about 2.5 million tons after MMG Ltd's Las Bambas project begins operations in February, Reuters reported.

Rosa Maria Ortiz of the Energy and Mines Ministry, or MEM, said that despite the deadly protests against the project in September, ongoing discussions with leaders in communities have been positive and have not delayed the $7.4 billion project, Reuters wrote. Ortiz noted that the Las Bambas mine, located in the Apurimac highland region, will produce between 250,000 and 300,000 tons of copper next year.

Las Bambas would be the first mining project in Peru in recent years to start operations even though it has faced fatal protests, the news outlet noted. Newmont Mining Corp's $4.8 billion gold and copper Conga project was deterred by complaints in 2011, while Southern Copper Corp's Tia Maria project worth $1.4 billion was suspended in May after the death of three protesters.

Peru, the world's third largest producer of copper, is expected to generate a growing share of copper suppliers in the coming years, Reuters further reported. However, community unrest in the Andean country has threatened to block its $56 billion mining project pipeline.

Ortiz said that the ongoing protests against Tia Maria will probably prevent the Peruvian government from issuing a construction permit for the copper mine until the end of President Ollanta Humala's term in late July, Reuters added. Ortiz noted that Southern Copper does not put efforts in gathering support from locals -- particularly farmers -- who worry about the project's impact on the environment.

A public prosecutor said in November that the mining firm is being suspected of paying protest leaders to back off, but that these payments would not be considered illegal because they were not given to public officials, the news outlet noted.

"It might not be criminal bribery, but ethically and morally it's inappropriate," Ortiz remarked, as quoted in Reuters' report. "We're waiting for the results of the proceedings."

Earlier this month, Business News Americas reported that Peru's production of most major metals increased in October, while gold, iron ore, and tin output fell.

The MEM said in a statement that copper production rose 32.3 percent (158,855 tons from 120,114 tons) due to the higher output at Antamina and Chinalco's Toromocho mines joined with the start-up of Hudbay Minerals' Constancia mine, which is worth $1.7 billion, Business News Americas wrote.

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