Peruvian protestors against copper mining lift highway blockage

11:30, April 19, 2010      

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Protestors in southern Peru decided on Sunday to end their blockade of the Pan American South Highway after reaching a truce with the government.

Government representative Beatriz Merino said local leaders in Arequipa province agreed to allow the transit of hundreds of trucks, buses and cars, which were stranded since Wednesday near the town of Islay, some 1,000 km south of the capital.

Among the stranded vehicles were 50 Bolivian trucks heading to the southern port of Matarani, as well as passenger buses from Argentina, Chile and Colombia.

Local residents blocked part of the 1,100-km highway to protest a copper mining project of the Southern Peru Copper Corporation (SPCC) for possible pollution.

They alleged mine exploitation would endanger the health of local people and livestock, and aggravate the water shortage in Islay as the mine would use water from lagoons and rivers.

Meanwhile, the SPCC asked the government to postpone a planned public hearing on Monday when it was going to present an environmental impact study of the Tia Maria project.

On April 4, thousands of miners and inhabitants in the southern town of Chala, 200 km south of Islay, staged a strike against the government's decision to ban illegal mining activities. The protest ended with a clash between protestors and police that killed six people.



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