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Peru declares state of emergency over anti-mining protests

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Police officers clash with anti-mining protesters in Andahuaylas, Peru on November 10, 2011.

The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in southern Espinar province to curb seven days of violent anti-mining protests in the highland region.

The 30-day state of emergency was imposed after two people were killed and scores more, including police officers, were injured in clashes over controversial Tinaya copper mine.

The state of emergency gives the military special power and suspends civil liberties, including freedom of assembly.

The protesters in Espinar province claim the Tinaya copper mine owned by Swiss-based Xstrata plc Company is causing pollution and contaminating local water supplies.

Workers have stopped mining at the mine for a week, arguing that it is contaminating two rivers, a claim that Xstrata rejects.

The state of emergency is the second called by the government over anti-mining protests in six months.

In December 2011, the government imposed a state emergency in the northern state of Cajamarca to end violent protests against the $4.8 billion Conga gold mining project.

Protesters complained that the project would have a dramatic environmental impact. However, President Ollanta Humala said the plan would benefit the whole country.

At least 10 people have died in clashes with the police over natural resources since Humala took office in July 2011. More than174 people were also killed in similar protests during the government of his predecessor, Alan Garcia.

Mining gold, copper, silver and other minerals account for 60 percent of the country’s export income.

Peru’s gold deposits are estimated to be worth around $15bn at current prices.


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