Peruvian foes of Tia Maria copper mine expand month-long protest
By Mitra Taj
AREQUIPA, PERU, April 22 (Reuters) - Opponents of Southern Copper Corp's proposed $1.4 billion Tia Maria mine in Peru expanded their month-long protests against the project on Wednesday with rallies in several towns in the region.
Demonstrators called on the government to cancel the copper project, stalled since protests turned violent in 2011, over fears it will pollute nearby agricultural valleys.
The protests on Wednesday were scattered throughout Peru's southern region of Arequipa, where Southern Copper hopes to start building Tia Maria this year.
The government approved the project's revised environmental impact study last year and a construction permit is pending.
But renewed demonstrations have threatened to further delay the project, which is expected to add 120,000 tonnes of copper to the company's annual output.
Unions, university students and local political groups marched in the regional capital of Arequipa on Wednesday while farmers rallied in surrounding valleys.
"Yes to agriculture! No to mining!" protesters chanted in the main square of the city Arequipa.
Organizers said the demonstrations were the biggest so far, with tens of thousands turning out across the region. Continuación...