After a company spokesman stated that Southern Copper was cancelling its investment in the Tia Maria mine, the company president denied those statements and confirmed that his company would develop the large copper mine in southern Peru.
Southern Copper’s public relations representative, Julio Morriberon, announced on RPP this morning “a complete withdrawal of our investment from the Arequipa region. This cancelation comes for two reasons. First is the arrival of a new kind of terrorism: anti-mining terrorism, which is led by a violent minority who have terrorized most of the population. Second, the complete paralysis of the state in its role in promoting investment and giving the necessary guarantees to put it in action.”
Mining and energy minister Rosa Ortiz spoke with Southern Copper’s president, Oscar Gonzales, just after the spokesman’s announcement on RPP, which caused an immediate uproar in the press, government, financial community and social media.
Just a few hours after Morriberon appeared on RPP, Gonzales disavowed his statements. “We consider the Tia Maria project to be important, and it will be beneficial for the company, its workers and the local population, for the Arequipa region and for the country. Finalizing this project represents the recovery of trust in the community of mining investors.” Gonzales praised the government efforts to begin dialogue with the protesters.
Shares of Southern Copper fell 5.6% in Lima after the announcement that Tia Maria would be abandoned, and its parent company Grupo Mexico was down 1.9% in Mexico City.
Leaders of the protest have vowed to continue with their indefinite strike until Southern Copper withdraws from the region. Protests which began on Monday have resulted in one death and 12 injuries in the Islay province of Arequipa.