The Chinese-owned Las Bambas mine in Peru halted production on Wednesday due to protests from workers. The mine is responsible for almost 2% of global copper production.
Works at the mine were deemed impossible by owners after months of blockages and protests. MMG, the company which owns the mine, have announced that they have transitioned to a care and maintenance structure.
Peruvian mining organisation, Sociedad Nacional de Mineria Petroleo y Energia, claims that mining investments will reduce in the coming years due to political instability and protests such as that at the mine. The unrest has left 30% of Peru’s copper production at risk.
Peru has seen near-continuous protests since early December following the removal of then-president Pedro Castillo by the National Assembly, the body that assumed legislative power in Peru. The populist leader attempted to dissolve the legislative body to avoid impeachment proceedings.
Castillo was popular among Peru’s mine workers due to his denouncement of multinational corporations and calls to nationalise swathes of the mining industry.
Since his impeachment workers have staged numerous demonstrations saying that they work in unsafe conditions and are underpaid.
Copper is used frequently in electric vehicle manufacturing as well as in electronics.
Industry experts are predicting a copper deficit in the coming years, but prices have not yet risen to reflect this. CEO of mining giant Glencore said: “There’s a huge deficit coming in copper, and as much as people write about it, the price is not yet reflecting it”.