18 September 2009

Gold Fields Halts Peru Exploration Project on Protest

By Nathan Gill
Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Gold Fields Ltd. and Cia. de Minas Buenaventura SA halted exploration of their Titan-Arabe gold and copper deposit in northern Peru after protests by local residents turned deadly, the head of the joint venture said.

“We saw that there were constant threats, so we took the decision to halt operations,” said Rocio Gordillo, the chief executive officer of Consolidada de Hualgayoc, the joint venture between Johannesburg-based Gold Fields and Lima-based Buenaventura, Peru’s biggest precious- metals producer.

The protesters are concerned that the operation may pollute water supplies. Hualgayoc has all the necessary government permits and received permission from nearby communities before beginning operations, Gordillo said in an interview late yesterday from Cajamarca, Peru.

Gordillo declined to say when Hualgayoc will restart operations in the Cajamarca region, which began on Aug. 1. Gold Fields and Buenaventura each own half of the venture.

“There is interest in continuing to work in the area but it is necessary that there be security and social peace,” Gordillo said.

The protests turned deadly on Sept. 15 when residents of the nearby town of Vista Alegre began fighting over the project, Gordillo said. Police are investigating the deaths of two people, including a child, who were killed in a brawl, she said.

“The people that are against operations are against them because they aren’t informed or they are being manipulated,” Gordillo said. Hualgayoc was not involved in the violence, she said.

Copper Falls

Gordillo declined to provide estimates of how much gold or copper the site may hold.
Barrick Gold Corp., Newmont Mining Corp. and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. are the world’s biggest gold producers.

Copper prices fell the most this month, erasing the week’s advance, as rising inventories spurred concern that demand may weaken. Futures for December delivery slid 10.9 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $2.787 a pound at 1:08 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange’s Comex division.