October 29, 2015 / 7:39 PM / 2 years ago

Peru lifts state of emergency in region rocked by mining protests

Peru's President Ollanta Humala addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 26, 2015.Darren Ornitz

LIMA (Reuters) - The government of Peru President Ollanta Humala said Thursday that it was lifting a state of emergency to start talks with local leaders over MMG Ltd's $7.4 billion Las Bambas copper project.

The government had suspended civil liberties and authorized military patrols in the southern Andean regions of Apurimac and Cusco after three people protesting the massive mine were killed by police in clashes last month.

Local leaders agreed to talks with central government officials starting Nov. 16, said Interior Minister Jose Luis Perez.

"What we want is a peaceful environment for dialogue," Perez said on local broadcaster RPP. "We're lifting the emergency declaration today."

Protesters had demanded that Chinese-owned MMG revise its environmental plan so that mineral concentrates are piped out of town. There were also calls for more local hires as construction work on the mine wraps up.

MMG has said it was supporting all efforts to promote dialogue.

Company and government officials have said the conflict has not changed the scheduled startup of the mine. MMG has said that commercial production should begin in May or June.

Las Bambas is expected to churn out 400,000 tonnes of copper annually in 2017.

Conflicts over mining frequently erupt in Peru, the world's third-largest copper producer.

Reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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