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One dead at Peru gold mine protest over scarce water

Peru LIMA: A struggle over dwindling water resources turned deadly at a mine in northern Peru, leading to clashes that killed one person and injured four others, police said Thursday.

Violence between police and residents of the city of Huaraz about 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Lima broke out at the Pierina gold mine late Wednesday said Rosa Villanueva, a police spokeswoman.

"We have one person reported dead and four injured after clashes at the mine," she told AFP.

Villanueva said the unrest occurred when protesters became unruly at the entrance of the mine, where police were providing security.

Canadian company Barrick, which owns the Pierina mine, told RPP radio that the stand-off led to the death of a 54-year-old protester, who clashed with police while trying to enter the mine.

Since last week, residents in the region have held demonstrations and set up road blocks to protest the worsening water shortage, which the Canadian company denies having caused.

"The issue of water supply is a problem outside our control," said Gonzalo Quijandria, a spokesman for Barrick.

He said the company has tried to ameliorate the shortage by offering local residents water purified and treated at the mine, but that they refused.

"We have put in a water plant, but the people did not accept it," Quijandria said.

"The community does not want to use water that comes from the mine, even though it is treated and certified. They are demanding water that comes from outside the mine, but water is scarce around Huaraz," he said.

Barrick Gold Corporation, based in Toronto, Canada, is the world's largest gold mining company, with 26 active mines in countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Tanzania.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012


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