The difficulties surrounding the development of the US$4.8bn Minas Conga copper-gold project in Peru's Cajamarca region are indicative of a national problem, according to the CEO of local precious metals miner Buenaventura (NYSE: BVN), Roque Benavides.
US-based Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) controls 51.35% of Conga, while Buenaventura and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation hold 43.65% and 5% stakes, respectively.
"What is happening is a national problem... it's not an exception; it's a national problem that we want to solve," Benavides said.
The environmental impact study (EIS) for Conga was approved by authorities in October 2010 and the company received all the pertinent licenses to start construction.
"Suddenly, anti-mining residents and authorities said that it could not go ahead," Benavides said. "This indicates a problem between the national and regional governments, and not a company problem."
Newmont was forced to suspend construction in November last year due to increasingly violent protests against the project.
"We're expecting to make an announcement regarding the development of Conga in the next few days," Benavides said.
Conga will provide more and better quality water, additional opportunities for small and medium-sized companies and include infrastructure badly needed by the communities, according to Benavides.
Peru cannot allow the suspension of projects such as US-based Southern Copper's (NYSE, BVL: SCCO) Tía María or Canadian firm Bear Creek Mining's (TSX-V, Lima: BCM) Santa Ana. By allowing such events, "we're benefitting other countries," Benavides said.
Conga is the largest project in Peru's current mining portfolio, which stands at US$53.391bn.