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Peru lifts state of emergency in mining dispute
by Staff Writers
Lima (AFP) Dec 16, 2011

Peru's government Friday lifted a state of emergency declared early this month in a region where a mining project had sparked violent protests, and scheduled talks for next week over the development.

Authorities had declared the emergency December 4, originally set for two months, after an 11-day worker strike over adverse environmental impacts that many in the region fear will result from a planned $4.8 billion mining project in the Cajamarca area of northern Peru.

A new decree published Friday lifts that emergency order and notes that protests in the area had been suspended. Officials said talks over the mining project, which had been suspended during the emergency, would resume Monday.

The emergency order had allowed the army to be deployed to maintain order, and limited the right of assembly in the region.

The dispute is over the so-called Conga project, currently in the exploration phase, which is a plan by US company Newmont to extract seven million ounces of gold and 400 million pounds of copper by 2017 from the area.

The open-pit project, located some 3,700 meters (12,140 feet) above sea level, involves moving the water from four lakes high in the Andes mountains into reservoirs the company would build.

But the Conga project has drawn protests from local residents, including mine workers, farmers and environmental activists, who fear among other concerns that contaminated water from the project could despoil the area's lakes and rivers.

President Ollanta Humala had been a backer of the project but has promised additional studies on the environmental impacts.

The troubles over the Conga project prompted the departure of prime minister Salomon Lerner.

Lerner was replaced by Oscar Valdes, a former army officer who had been the interior minister and was instrumental in the declaration of the state of emergency.

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