Peru mining communities vow to resume protests

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Peru mining communities vow to resume protests

LIMA, November 25, Reuters -- Communities in Peru's Ayacucho region say they will resume protests against the mining sector if the government of leftist President Pedro Castillo breaches what they call a signed agreement to shutter mines.

The government wouldn't approve extensions for four mines over environmental concerns raised by local communities, according to Prime Minister Mirtha Vasquez last week. On Wednesday, authorities softened their public position, saying the mines could seek permission to extend operations.

In July, President Pedro Castillo came to power, with the backing of poor communities who claim the mines have deprived them of adequate water supplies and promised more benefits.

The communities launched a wave of protests this month and told Reuters on Thursday they would resume their action if the government doesn't stick to the closure plans.

Julio Guillermo Gutierrez, leader of the Parinacochas People's Defense Front, said that the mines already have a closure plan and we want it to be carried out.

The mining companies can request an extension of their operations if they want to. Gutierrez said that it was not what we want, but that is not what we want.

He said the local protests were only suspended and would be resumed if necessary.

Ayacucho Sur Fighting Committee representative, Che Bernaola, told Reuters that the group will demand the closure of the mines be implemented.

If the government does not comply with the signed agreement, we will activate the protest that had been suspended, he said. The majority of voters in Ayacucho and other mining areas voted for Castillo. On Wednesday he released a letter in which he called for the region to join the defence of land and water resources that he said had been poisoned by mining.

The companies in question say they are complying with environmental standards and that their operations do not pollute water supplies.

One of these is the London-listed Highschild Mining HOCM.L operator of the flagship Inmaculada silver project.

The company's share price lost half of its value before it rebounded this week because of the threat of closure. It was up strongly on Thursday after the government changed its tone.

Hochschild said on Thursday that its Inmaculada mine and another in the Ayacucho region of Peru would continue to operate under current frameworks.

The producer of copper and silver is 2.

Under its law, all mines have a planned closure date that can be modified if regulators allow it. The government says the closure schedule for the four mines in question ranges from this year to 2025.