Peru sends in army to control clashes over copper project
LIMA May 9 (Reuters) - Peru's government on Saturday authorized the military to take control of a southern region that has been rocked in recent weeks by protests against a planned copper mine in which three people have died and more than 200 have been injured.
In a resolution signed by President Ollanta Humala, the government ordered the army to "prevent violence" in the province of Islay until June 7 because of the recent clashes between police and locals protesting against Southern Copper Corp's $1.4 billion Tia Maria project.
Tia Maria has the potential to add 120,000 tonnes of copper to Nasdaq-listed Southern Copper's annual output but the protests have prevented construction starting. Opponents say they fear it will pollute surrounding agricultural valleys.
The government on Saturday confirmed the death of a policeman from wounds to the head. Two civilians have also died in the protests, which started nearly seven weeks ago.
Southern Copper, controlled by Grupo Mexico, has said the protests might delay the start of production, planned for 2017, and that progress hinges on talks between the opponents and the government, which supports Tia Maria.
Conflicts over mining projects in Peru, the world's third-biggest copper producer, have held up billions of dollars in investment and left several protesters dead in recent years. (Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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