SANTIAGO (BNAmericas) -- Anti-mining demonstrators have destroyed the exploration camp at Peruvian precious metals company Buenaventura's (NYSE: BVN) La Zanja gold project, including the physical log of mineral samples, company CFO Carlos Galv'ez told BNamericas.
An initially peaceful demonstration by 350 people against mine development on November 16 turned violent after four hours with the destruction of four vehicles, tents, computers and electronic equipment supplying electricity, he said.
Demonstrators began attacking locals working at the camp in northern Cajamarca department with stones and rounds from firearms at around 6pm and, after meeting no resistance, destroyed the camp and left at about 10pm, said the CFO.
Two days later, the dead body of a local with gunshot wounds was found at a village 8km from the site, he said.
"We don't know whether the round came from firearms held by the police or demonstrators," said Galv'ez.
Buenaventura is in the midst of holding workshops with local communities on La Zanja, part of the environment impact study approval process. The company plans to build a 100,000oz heap-leach, open-pit mine at La Zanja for US$35mn, with production start-up originally slated for the second half of 2005.
"As a result of the level of sensitivity to mining in Cajamarca department, we are being especially careful not only to meet legal formalities but to contact all possible stakeholders in the project," said Galv'ez.
The company has even held meetings with farmers in neighboring Lambayeque department over the possible impact of the mine on water used for irrigation there, he said.
The company, along with its JV partner US miner Newmont (NYSE: NEM), has also been continuing exploration of La Zanja and conducting infrastructure work, such as road building in the area.
Galv'ez said Buenaventura would have to revise the form in which the company handled its work at La Zanja in the future but did not elaborate. A criminal investigation is currently underway.
Buenaventura holds 53% and Newmont 47% of La Zanja. Earlier this month, other demontrations forced the two miners to abandon exploration of the Cerro Quilish JV, part of their Yanacocha gold mine, also in Cajamarca.