UPDATE 3-Southern Copper announces 'pause' in Peru project to end unrest

viernes 15 de mayo de 2015 20:11 GYT

(Adds context in 4th paragraph, quote in 8th)

LIMA May 15 (Reuters) - Southern Copper Corp on Friday announced a 60-day formal "pause" in its stalled $1.4 billion Tia Maria project in a bid to quell deadly protests against it.

The decision follows weeks of unrest in the southern region of Arequipa and a presidential address to the country urging peace and demanding the miner do more to build support for the project.

"In the spirit of recovering the climate of peaceful coexistence the country needs, we ask for the time and terms needed to socialize the project and clear up existing doubts in the next 60 days," Chief Executive Officer Oscar Gonzales said in a statement.

Peru, the world's third-leading copper producer, is expected to contribute a significant amount to future global supplies. But mining conflicts have held up billions of dollars worth of investments in recent years.

Tia Maria has faced delays since 2011, when similar rallies by farmers who say the mine will pollute the surrounding agricultural valley also left three dead.

Southern Copper, controlled by Grupo Mexico, has said it will use the highest standards and promised to build a desalinization plant to ease concerns over water supplies in its revised environmental plan, which was approved last year.

A construction permit for the 120,000-tonnes-per-year copper mine was pending when renewed protests broke out March 23.

"Nothing has changed, it should not be the company that makes the decision but the people," said Helar Valencia, one of four mayors in Arequipa opposed to the project.   Continuación...