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Peru protests snarl copper leaving MMG's Las Bambas mine -source

Kitco News

LIMA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Anti-government protesters in Peru are blocking traffic in and out of MMG Ltd's Las Bambas copper mine, but production will continue "as long as there is a stock of supplies," a source close to the company told Reuters on Monday.

Highway blockades in protest of President Dina Boluarte are keeping copper concentrate at the mine and blocking supplies from arriving, said the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. MMG did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Production at Las Bambas is continuing at a reduced rate, with processing at full capacity and mining lower than usual, a MMG representative said earlier on Monday.

The mine has reduced its output since late November due to regular blockades set up by locals seeking greater benefits from the mine's operations.

Protests erupted in early December after former President Pedro Castillo tried to illegally dissolve Congress and was arrested, resuming after a two-week pause on Jan. 4, mostly in Peru's southern mining regions. Forty-two people, including one police officer, have died in little more than a month of protests, which have led to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Peru is the world's No. 2 copper producer and Las Bambas is one of the world's largest producers of the red metal. Last week, Glencore reported that a group of "vandals" attacked its Antapaccay copper mine, while Minsur announced the temporary suspension of its tin mine after some 18 people died in nearby protests in Peru's southern Puno region.

Tensions at Las Bambas peaked early last year, when residents of two communities moved onto the company's land, forcing the mine to suspend all operations for nearly two months. The mining company has said that since starting operations in 2016, Las Bambas has suffered from more than 540 days of blockades on public roads that make up the so-called mining corridor.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino in Lima; Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Writing by Brendan O'Boyle; Editing by Richard Chang and Jamie Freed)

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