By Dow Jones Business News, October 02, 2013, 06:02:00 PM EDT
By Ryan Dube
LIMA, Peru--Peru President Ollanta Humala said Wednesday that the development of the Minas Conga copper and gold
project in northern Peru is in the hands of Minera Yanacocha, the company that owns the deposit.
The $5 billion Minas Conga project has faced opposition from residents and politicians in Peru's Cajamarca region over
concerns that it would deplete the local water supply. Violent protests against the project last year left several
people dead and led Yanacocha to suspend construction work at the mine.
President Humala's administration has supported the development of Minas Conga, but has struggled to help resolve the
dispute. The dispute was a key reason behind Mr. Humala replacing his prime minister and other cabinet members two times
within the first year of his administration.
Yanacocha is currently building water reservoirs that it hopes will help it win over local support by ensuring
communities' water supply.
In an interview with RPP television Wednesday, President Humala said the development of the project is out of the
government's control and is with Yanacocha, which is majority owned by Newmont Mining Corp. ( NEM ).
"In the case of Conga, as the state we've fulfilled what we had to do, which was guarantee private property and
guarantee public order," Mr. Humala said. "Today, the rhythm that the Conga project advances is completely in the field
of the private company."
"It isn't a state problem," Mr. Humala added.
Newmont has a 51.35% interest in Minas Conga, while Compania de Minas Buenaventura SAA ( BVN ) has a 43.65% stake. The
World Bank'sInternational Finance Corp. owns the remainder.
Both the company and government officials have said that they believe they are making advances in gaining community
support for Minas Conga. However, one of the project's main opponents, Cajamarca Regional President Gregorio Santos, was
reported saying this week that he isn't interested in holding talks with Yanacocha.
Resolving social conflicts that have delayed the development of mining projects is one of the key challenges facing
the sector in Peru. The Andean country's economy is heavily dependent on the mining sector, which accounts for about 60%
of its exports.
President Humala's comments come before he leaves for an official trip to Asia, where he will take part in the Asia-
Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, starting on Oct. 5. Mr. Humala is also planning to travel to
Thailand, where he is scheduled to meet with that country's political and business leaders.
Write to Ryan Dube at email@example.com
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