February 8, 2017 / 11:22 PM / a year ago

Protests in Peru block roads to MMG's Las Bambas copper mine

LIMA, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Protests in a remote highland region of Peru have blocked roads used by MMG Ltd to transport copper concentrates from its mega mine Las Bambas, a representative of the ombudsman’s office said on Wednesday.

Residents of the town of Challhuahuacho took to the streets on Monday to demand that the government of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski build a hospital and a sewage system, said Artemio Solano with the ombudsman’s office in the region of Apurimac.

Protest leaders want Kuczynski to travel to the town, at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet (3,658 meters)in Peru’s southern Andes, to negotiate a solution, said Solano.

Kuczynski’s office and a representative for Las Bambas’ did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Protests in the region last year suspended shipments of copper from the mine and nearly halted its operations. One protester was killed in clashes with police who tried to restore transportation on a road used by the mine.

Challhuahuacho’s population has grown rapidly in the past decade as the open-pit mine was built, fueling calls for new public work projects to support newcomers in one of Peru’s poorest regions.

Peru is the world’s second biggest copper producer but is rife with conflicts over mining in far-flung regions where basic services such as running water and paved roads are scant.

Las Bambas produced some 300,000 tonnes of copper in the first 11 months of 2016, according to the energy and mines ministry. (Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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