Peru will seek “a new agreement” with its all-important mining sector by providing incentives for projects with “social profitability” in the world’s second largest copper producer, new Energy and Mining Minister Iván Merino told Reuters.
In his first interview since he became minister on Thursday, he said that mines not only need to generate money for private companies and generate tax revenue. They must also help the population through improved infrastructure, respect for indigenous communities and better environmental protection, he added.
“A new agreement will come out of the talks with all the players in the sector, including large, medium and small companies,” Merino said in his office on Friday night, a day after taking office with other members of the cabinet appointed by the leftist president Pedro Castillo. .
Merino, who had run a conflict resolution company before becoming a minister, said he would develop the mining sector with a “territorial” approach in a country known for its diverse regions, cultures and ecosystems.
These “criteria are based on social profitability,” he said. “If companies comply with that, they will not only develop the projects they have, we will support them in new initiatives.”
Castillo appointed moderate economist Pedro Francke as finance minister late on Friday, a move seen as an olive branch for financial markets rocked by a possible hard-left policy shift. Earlier, Castillo appointed Guido Bellido, a hardline Marxist, prime minister.
Castillo had promised to raise taxes on mining to finance more investment in health and education, but Merino said any new taxes will be decided company by company. “We cannot generalize. You can’t tell a company that already has high costs that it will also have higher taxes, ”he said.
Regarding the Las Bambas mine of the Chinese company MMG Ltd, where local communities have blocked roads for more than a week, the minister said the government was willing to “facilitate” the dialogue.
Residents of three communities in Chumbivilcas province began the blockade on July 23, claiming that MMG had not been sufficiently sharing the benefits of the mine.
“What I would tell companies is to come and invest, and if they meet our criteria for social profitability, they will have our full support,” added Merino.