The wife and infant son of a local mining leader were assassinated last week in the community of Pamputa, Coyllurqui district, Cotabambas province, Apurímac region, Peru. The bodies were found Sept. 18 by Carmelo Hanco, president of the local Artisenal Miners Association of Los Apus de Chunta, when he returned home from a trip to Abancay, the regional capital, where he had been petitioning authorities for the “formalization” of mining claims. Authorities said the killings took place during a robbery, but Hanco said he suspected the involvement of the Xstrata mining company—which he charged has been pressing for the arrest of independent artisenal miners in the region with an eye towards establishing its own operations. The company has for 10 years operated a giant gold, silver and copper mine at nearby Las Bambas (Chahuahuacho district), above the opposition of both local artisenal miners and campesinos. (Con Nuestro Peru, Sept. 21)
Xstrata is currently taking bids for sale of the mine at Las Bambas, as a condition imposed by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) for its approval of Swiss-based Xstrata’s merger with another Anglo-Swiss mineral giant, Glencore. Jiangxi Copper, China’s top producer, and Chinalco Mining, another Chinese giant, are leading bidders. (Mining.com, Aug. 23)
More unrest is meanwhile reported from Puno region, bordering Lake Titicaca, the scene of numerous conflicts related to mineral exploitation. A local uprising broke out in the town of Huancané on Sept. 20, with roads blocked and a 72-hour paro, or civil strike, declared. One of the town councilors and another provincial official who were accused of corruption were detained by a mob and publicly whipped with a belt. (La Republica, Sept. 20)
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