By Marcelo Rochabrun
LIMA (Reuters) -Peruvian police said on Wednesday they had evicted an indigenous community that set up a camp inside a huge open pit owned by MMG’s Las Bambas copper mine, that had forced the Chinese-owned company to halt operations.
Las Bambas, owned by China’s MMG Ltd, supplies 2% of global copper and suspended copper production a week ago because of the protest. Residents of the indigenous Fuerabamba community entered the mine on April 14 demanding to take back what they say is their ancestral land.
“While respecting human rights … 676 police officers from the Apurimac region recovered 100% of the land owned by Las Bambas that had been invaded,” police said on Twitter.
Three people were injured, authorities said.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Las Bambas was planning to forcibly evict the community on Wednesday.
Edison Vargas, president of the Fuerabamba community, said opposition to the mine would go on.
“We are still fighting … and we are going to continue all night,” Vargas, the president of the Fuerabamba community, told Reuters by phone.
Vargas, however, acknowledged that the majority of community members had been evicted by police forces earlier in the day and they were now fighting from outside company property.
It was unclear if Las Bambas would be able to restart production in the short term.
MMG said in a statement to the Hong Kong Exchange on Thursday that it had taken part in meetings with authorities and community members to establish dialogue and resolve the issues, though no agreement had been reached.
It said production at Las Bambas operation remained suspended for safety reasons.
Peru’s government declared a state of emergency in the area earlier on Wednesday, meaning a suspension of civil liberties such as the right to assembly and protest.
The Fuerabamba community was resettled about a decade ago to make way for Las Bambas, one of the word’s largest copper mines. The mine has battled against repeated protests and road blockades that have at times forced it to halt production.
Getting production started at Las Bambas would add to global supply, potentially dampening prices.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast)