August 16, 2017 / 6:21 PM / in a year

UPDATE 4-Peru declares emergency to end protest near Las Bambas copper mine

(Adds MMG statement, paragraphs 4,5)

LIMA, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Peru declared a 30-day state of emergency in a remote Andean region to end a protest by residents who have blocked a road used by miner MMG Ltd to move its copper concentrate to port for shipping, the government said on Wednesday.

Residents in the area have refused to allow trucks from the Las Bambas mine transit a local road unless MMG or the government pays them for the usage, said Artemio Solano, a regional director of the ombudsman’s office, which monitors social conflicts in Peru.

There are no alternate routes that MMG can use to reach the port of Matarani on Peru’s southern coast, Solano added.

MMG in a statement to the Hong Kong stock market, where its shares trade, said access will be “progressively restored” following a government “security action,” but did not provide a time frame.

Meanwhile, copper production at the mine has continued during the blockade, according to the statement.

The company was not immediately available to comment. The emergency declaration suspends the right to free assembly and movement in three towns in the area, according to a decree signed by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and published on the website of the official gazette El Peruano on Wednesday.

The police and military will maintain order in the districts of Challhuahuacho, Haquira and Mara during the emergency, the decree said.

Police are not planning to clear the road because government and company officials will meet to talk with residents on Thursday, said local police chief Franklin Encalada.

Social upheaval in Peru, where large mines often operate alongside towns that lack basic public services, is common and sometimes the conflicts turn violent.

Las Bambas is one of Peru’s biggest copper mines and produced 217,640 tonnes of copper in the first half of 2017, according to government data.

Similar road blockages by residents last year near Las Bambas stopped MMG’s transportation of concentrates and nearly halted operations at the mine.

A government office charged with resolving social conflicts did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Transportation Ministry said it could not immediately provide comment.

Peru is the world’s second-largest producer of copper behind neighboring Chile. (Reporting by Mitra Taj; editing by Grant McCool and Frances Kerry)

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