Despite the construction permit in place, the miner will not begin work on the Peruvian copper mine until it gets the backing of the local residents


Image: Peruvian government grants construction permit for Tia Maria copper project to Southern Copper. Photo courtesy of Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay.

Southern Copper, a subsidiary of Mexican mining conglomerate Grupo México, has secured construction permit from the Peruvian government for its $1.4bn (£1.12bn) Tia Maria copper project located in the Arequipa Region in Peru.

Issuance of the construction permit means the government’s approval of Southern Copper’s environmental plan for the Tia Maria copper project will continue to be in effect, reported Reuters. Otherwise, the approval was due to expire in August 2019 and could have pushed back the copper mine development by another year.

National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy president Manuel Fumagalli was quoted by the publication as saying: “It’s an important sign for reactivating private investment and ensuring the economic and social growth the country needs.”

Protests against Tia Maria copper project

Southern Copper has been waiting for the final approval for the Tia Maria copper project which the previous Peruvian governments refused to give amid fears of public backlash. In 2011, protests erupted against the copper mine development, which resulted in loss of human lives.

About three years later, Southern Copper secured approval for the revised environmental impact assessment of the Tia Maria copper project prepared on its behalf by Geoservice Ingeniería. However, in 2015, protests began again, which also turned out to be violent.

Despite getting the construction permit, Southern Copper will not begin work on the Peruvian copper mine until it gets the backing of the local residents.

The company indicated that more needs to be done to get the acceptance of the locals while committing not to start construction until it settles doubts regarding the Tia Maria copper project by working alongside the Peruvian government.

The proposed mining project has been mainly opposed for its potential impact on agricultural fields and for possibly contaminating water supplies in the region.

The Tia Maria copper deposit, which is located in the province of Islay in southern Peru, is estimated to have reserves of 711 million tonnes of ore graded at 0.36% copper.

Apart from Tia Maria, Southern Copper is involved in two other copper projects in southern Peru, which are the Cuajone and Toquepala mines.