October 19, 2016 / 6:17 PM / 2 years ago

Towns protesting copper mine in Peru turns away negotiating team

* Protesters demand a meeting with President Kuczynski

* The mine is no longer transporting minerals to port

* Police said crackdown on protesters was not authorized

LIMA, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Protesters blocking a road to MMG Ltd’s copper mine in Peru turned away a delegation of high-ranking government officials who hoped to restart talks on Wednesday after a local man was shot dead in clashes with police last week.

Residents from Andean towns demanded a meeting with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski as they mourned the 42-year-old farmer whose coffin lay on a road leading to MMG’s Las Bambas mine, said Artemio Solano with the ombudsman’s office.

“We’re starting our trip back... unfortunately our request for dialog was not reciprocated,” Energy and Mines Minister Gonzalo Tamayo, head of the negotiating team, said on local TV channel Canal N.

Kuczynski said as a candidate that he would personally travel to far-flung towns to resolve disputes over mining in the world’s third-biggest copper producer.

Kuczynski’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Protesters in Apurimac in Peru’s southern Andes are angry over pollution and noise from hundreds of trucks per day carrying Las Bambas’ copper concentrates over the unpaved road near their homes, Solano said.

The company has suspended all transportation of minerals from the mine since the man was killed Friday, said Solano and local councilman Jose Antonio Lima.

MMG did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. The company said after the clash on Friday that it was using an alternate route to move its minerals to port.

Kuczynski, a centrist former investment banker who took office July 28, said earlier this week that protesters’ demands were “legitimate” and that he would work to improve roads in the region.

Unrest erupted on Friday when police tried to end a weeklong protest by locals who had blocked and carved trenches into the road to keep the company from using it.

Peru’s Interior Ministry has said that two colonels ordered the crackdown without permission three days before officials were scheduled to meet with protesters.

Police and public prosecutors are investigating the shooting of the man. Three protesters were also killed in clashes over the mine last year.

“Unfortunately, trust has been lost,” Antolin Chipani, Challhuahuacho mayor, said on local broadcaster RPP. “We’ve tried dialogue in the past but it’s failed and only brought us blood.”

Peru’s economy has been recovering this year on the back of surging output from Las Bambas and other new mines as domestic demand remains weak and private investments slump.

Las Bambas produced 35,000 tonnes of copper in August, official data show. (Reporting By Mitra Taj and Marco Aquino; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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