Peru restores construction licence to Southern Copper for Tia Maria mine

The construction permit for Southern Copper Corp’s US$1.4 billion Tia Maria copper mine has been restored by the Peruvian government, after it had suspended the licence in August amid rising local protests.

Prime Minister Vicente Zeballos said on Wednesday the government would not ‘impose’ the project on the country, after it had earlier received the green light for a construction licence from Peru’s mining council.

Speaking at the presidential palace, Zeballos said the government recognised the importance of private investment. “But we also reaffirm that our government will not impose the Tía Maria mining project if there are not the environmental and social conditions for its development,” he said.

In a statement, Southern said it planned to develop the project ‘within the framework of a more favorable social climate’ and to work with the local population in the Southern Islay province of the Arequipa region.

The Tia Maria project has been in the pipeline for nearly a decade, but opposition from local farmers and residents – citing pollution and loss of water supply – has consistently delayed the development.

However, Southern is hopeful that the project will be developed by 2020. Once completed, the mine is expected to produce 120,000 tonnes of copper a year over an estimated 20-year lifespan.