Firm says $1.4 bn Peru mining project still on after spat

A Mexican-owned copper mining company insisted Friday it will go ahead with a $1.4 billion project in Peru, denying an executive`s claim that it was pulling out because of local opposition.

Southern Peru`s planned "Tia Maria" mine in the Tambo Valley in the Arequipa region has faced months of protests by locals who fear pollution damaging to agriculture.

Executive Julio Morriberon told local broadcaster RPP radio Friday that the company was scrapping the silver- and copper-mining project because of "a total politicization in the valley and indecisiveness on the part of the authorities."

But Southern Peru quickly issued a denial.

"The company... has announced it will continue making its best effort to go ahead with the Tia Maria project," it said in a statement.

The project "will be very beneficial for the company, its workers and the local population, as well as for the Arequipa region and the country," it said.

Southern Peru is an affiliate of Mexico`s Southern Copper.

Peru`s Energy and Mines Minister Rosa Maria Ortiz said that Morriberon was exaggerating, and that the government expected the company to issue a correction.

Protesters opposed to the project have shut down roads in the area and clashed with police, leaving at least 12 wounded.

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