Southern Copper (SCCO)’s Tia Maria: Bogged down in blood

But really, who wouldn't want a copper mine here?

Southern Copper (SCCO) will have to wait a bit longer to build its Tia Maria mine near Cocachakra, Peru. The bloody protests this week have made it to the English press, and this Dow Jones report (reprinted on Fox Business) has some of the basics:

A total of three people died this week in the southern Peruvian province of Islay during clashes between police and protesters … A 22-year-old man was shot Monday during confrontations, while police confirmed Friday that two other protesters died Thursday, also shot by bullets or hit by objects of “unknown origin” … six-month government freeze on Tia Maria’s licensing evaluations … protesters continued to demand the project’s total withdrawal, blocking a local highway which police tried to clear Thursday, resulting in two more deaths and a total of about 50 injured … tear gas canisters discharged by a helicopter affecting families, children and the elderly … Human rights groups have criticized Peru’s methods of controlling public protests … Southern Copper … board will meet mid-April to discuss whether to continue with Tia Maria…

The government has now “definitively cancelled” the project, according to this article in El Comercio. Thanks very much to Otto for sending it along. Allow me to translate…

Government definitively cancels Tía María project

Through a resolution released by the Energy and Mines Ministry, the environmental impact study is ruled inadmissible

After 17 days of violent protests against the Tia Maria project by residents of Islay, Arequipa, the Energy and Mines Ministry (MEM) released today a resolution by which the environmental impact study (EIA) of the project was ruled inadmissable, which cancels it definitively …

Southern Peru Corp. must abstain from executing any mining activity foreseen as part of the Tia Maria project and in consequence must retire teams, machinery, consumables and provisional installations…

Upon learning of the news, the demonstrators have begun to clear the highways in a peaceful manner, correspondent Carlos Zanabria informs elcomercio.pe.

I don’t know if this mine is good or bad. Honestly, I know little about it. I don’t know if the locals are just being manipulated by outsiders or if they have legitimate grievances.

But Carlos Andres Taype, 22, could be asleep now, and in the morning he could wake up and walk out to the cabbage fields in the sweet-smelling dawn of that desert oasis. He won’t, because some minister decided to be stubborn and insist that the mine would go ahead, the better to attract foreign investment, my dear. Now the mine is on indefinite hold anyway, and Taype is dead of a bullet to the kidney. The same story goes for two other demonstrators who woke up Thursday and will never go to bed again.

So here’s what I do know: If people have to die to be heard, it’s a stretch to call Peru a democracy, no matter how many adults obey the law Sunday by casting presidential ballots.

One thought on “Southern Copper (SCCO)’s Tia Maria: Bogged down in blood

  1. westslope

    Protestors burned a bus, and sacked a technological centre (sic) last November. Recently, they threw stones at the Peruvian national police forces. On the 23 of May 2011, 9 persons–journalists, police, demonstrators–were treated for injuries caused by stones received in the head.

    In my experience, protesters in demonstrations resorting to blocking major highways, and similar, are always violent. Always. Blocking the Panamerican highway is a violent act of major proportions in itself and a direct challenge to the Peruvian state. In a world of misleading hype, “economic terrorism” is not all that misleading. ;-)

    For comparison, how do we do in Canada where for better or for worse many, many people still strongly support violence as means of resolving conflicts?

    British Columba strikers carry 2X4s to the picket line. Striking Quebecers carry baseball bats. Salmon fishermen take hostages. In the past, a bit of dynamite has been deployed (sometimes under the paying and watchful of CSIS) and on one occasion fellow workers have died. That one made the news.

    Death threats are common, and rarely treated seriously by police. The Ontario provincial police shot an Ontario native man a few years back at Ipperwash, and that nastiness could have been easily avoided.

    But I suppose Canadian security forces do kill fewer people, though I haven’t run the numbers. Colombia’s ESMAD has deployed tear gas and rubber bullets over the past year as far as I know, so far nobody has been killed. Aside from FARC-member ‘protesters’.

    —————————————-

    All this aside, somebody in Southern Copper screwed up badly, very badly. If I was a shareholder, I would be livid with anger. The sometimes nasty split between Peruvian elites and folks in some local communities is a well-known given, a natural fact. If the company was fully accountable, senior heads should roll.

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