Peruvian police stated on Friday that they’ve arrested the chief and two attorneys of an indigenous neighborhood, accusing them of making an attempt to extort Chinese language miner MMG Ltd by blocking a street it makes use of to move copper for the previous month.
Gregorio Rojas, president of the neighborhood Fuerabamba, was arrested in Lima late on Thursday, together with the neighborhood’s attorneys, brothers Frank and Jorge Chavez, the police stated in a press release.
It was not instantly clear who the authorized representatives have been for Rojas and the Chavez brothers. Frank Chavez and Rojas have beforehand denied allegations by representatives of the mining trade that the street blockade aimed to illegally or unfairly safe cash from MMG.
Fuerabamba has stated MMG constructed the street on its farmland with out its permission, and that the federal government illegally made it a nationwide freeway final yr to assist MMG, which is managed by state-owned China Minmetals Corp Ltd. The federal government and MMG deny the allegations.
Rojas advised Reuters this month that Fuerabamba requested MMG for 40 million soles ($12 million) for the rights to make use of the street. The arrests got here as talks between the three events reached a stalemate. The federal government had demanded an finish to the blockade earlier than discussing the neighborhood’s calls for any additional.
MMG stated it respects selections by Peru’s judicial system and was open to dialogue. It reiterated that the street blockade had halted its exports of copper however that manufacturing has not but stopped.
Las Bambas is certainly one of Peru’s largest copper mines, with about 385,000 tonnes in output final yr.
Fuerabamba, a Quechua-speaking neighborhood that after farmed and herded animals in Peru’s southern Andes, was relocated to a brand new city close to Las Bambas earlier this decade in order that the mine may very well be constructed.
Fuerabamba has repeatedly accused MMG of failing to meet its commitments within the relocation settlement. In early February, neighborhood members camped out alongside a stretch of the street on its farmland to dam MMG’s vans carrying copper concentrates to the port of Matarani on Peru’s Pacific coast.
Former Fuerabamba President Alfonso Vargas stated by phone on Friday that the blockade would proceed regardless of the arrests.
As a part of the identical operation, police stated that they had arrested two others and seized dynamite, weapons and bullets from 12 properties in Lima and the area of Apurimac, the place Las Bambas is situated. The police assertion didn’t specify whose property the weapons have been seized from or how they associated to the alleged extortion.