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Peru mining firms' logistics at risk from extended protests, Fitch says

Kitco News

March 9 (Reuters) - Mining companies operating in Peru face "material risk" amid extended protests and blockades in the world's No. 2 copper-producing nation, Fitch Ratings said on Thursday, warning of possible lack of supplies and issues transporting ore to ports.

"We believe protests and blockades that extend beyond three months can pose a material risk to a mine's operations, including logistics," Fitch said in a report, highlighting uncertainty on when the conflicts will be resolved - particularly in areas with important copper deposits.

The South American nation has since December faced a political crisis driving extended protests and blockades which have left dozens dead, following the ouster of former leftist President Pedro Castillo, who had an important support base among impoverished areas of the southern Andean region.

Miners Buenaventura and Volcan, which operate only in Peru, could face especially high risk of disruption due to lack of supplies and problems transferring products to ports on the country's Pacific coast, Fitch said.

However, companies with several commodity businesses and solid liquidity should be able to carry out shipments to the coast with limited difficulty, it said.

Earlier this week, Energy and Mines Minister Oscar Vera said the country's key mining corridor was "practically unblocked," and data early this month showed key copper mines cranking up activities again despite the uncertainty.

(Reporting by Marion Giraldo; Editing by Sarah Morland and Sandra Maler)

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