LIMA, Mar 29, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) -- A Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO) official said Tuesday the company expects to comply with a number of United Nations recommendations on the environmental impact of its stalled Tia Maria copper mine project in Peru.
Meanwhile, Peru's government has authorized the use of military force to back up police control of anti-Tia Maria protests.
Demonstrations against the proposed mine, which caused the project to be suspended last April, began again last week following the leaking of the government-commissioned U.N. report.
The report was completed and delivered to the government earlier this month. The Mining and Energy ministry has said official approvals for Tia Maria now hinge on compliance with the U.N. report's recommendations, giving the company 90 days from the day it receives the report to do so.
Tia Maria project manager Mauricio Pero said Southern Copper had received the report Monday. "We will first review the document and we expect to be able to comply with all the applicable recommendations," he said. Southern Copper has said Tia Maria should produce 120,000 tons of copper a year and expects it to go into production at the end of 2012.
Separately on Tuesday, in a statement published in newspaper La Republica, the anti-Tia Maria protesters demanded the complete withdrawal of the mine project, saying the U.N. report "evidenced critical deficiencies" in the project's environmental-impact study.
The protesters say the mine project will damage their environment and water supplies. Their statement also said the "indefinite" protest would continue despite injuries to hundreds of protesters and 17 arrests. "The Tia Maria project is socially and environmentally nonviable," the statement said.
About 1,000 police are currently in the province of Islay, home to the mine project, said media reports, while the armed forces are guarding a nearby fuel plant against attacks. The issue of government force against protesters is a sensitive one in Peru. Last year five protesters died during another mining-related protest, and in 2009 during another extractive industry related protest, 23 police and a disputed number of protesters died.
Southern Copper, which has mines in Peru and Mexico, is controlled by Grupo Mexico SAB de CV (GMEXICO.MX). Peru is the world's second-biggest copper producer, according to figures from the mining ministry.