By Marco Aquino
LIMA – Glencore Plc’s huge Antapaccay copper mine in Peru is operating at “restricted” capacity due to anti-government protests that saw an attack on the facility last week, a company source told Reuters on Tuesday.
Peru, the world’s No. 2 copper producer, is currently in the throes of its worst civil unrest in over 20 years, posing a risk to mining activity and copper transport that has buoyed global prices of the metal on supply worries and hit some company share prices.
“The mine has not yet suspended operations, which overall continue in a restricted manner,” the company source said, asking not to be named. Road blockades by protesters were preventing trucks from moving its copper, the source said.
“Due to the road blockades, no type of transport activity is being carried out, this includes the transport of concentrate for export.”
Antapaccay, located in the province of Espinar in the Cusco region, is one of Peru’s largest mines. It produced 135,987 tonnes of copper between January and November last year, company data shows.
Last week, two Antapaccay company vehicles were burned and the area around the workers’ housing was attacked. In response, Glencore said it would evacuate staff from the site.
The source said the mine was still trying to evacuate its 2,400 staff and contractors, an effort that has been complicated by the ongoing blockades.
“The local protest leaders continue to incite the population and have set themselves the objective of paralyzing the mine,” the person said.
Representatives for Antapaccay and Glencore did not respond to Reuters requests for official comment.
Peruvians in the country’s south have been protesting since the Dec. 7 ouster of leftist President Pedro Castillo after he tried to shutter Congress illegally. They are demanding the removal of new President Dina Boluarte and a new constitution.
The protests have led to the deaths of 42 people, with a further eight killed in related accidents.
Las Bambas mine, owned by China’s MMG Ltd in the Apurimac region, has also seen transport of copper concentrates impacted by the blockades. Last week, Minsur also temporarily suspended operations at its San Rafael mine, one of the largest tin mines in the world.