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Southern Copper proposes 60-day pause in disputed Peru mine

Farmers opposed to a mining project march in Cocachacra, Peru, Friday, May 15, 2015. Farmers and local leaders fear the $1.3 billion Tia Maria open-pit mine will contaminate irrigation water in the rice farming-rich Tambo valley on Peru's desert coast. Thousands have mobilized against the project, which is owned by Southern Peru Copper Corp., a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

COCACHACRA, Peru (AP) — A Mexican-owned mining company proposed Friday to make a 60-day halt in a huge project in southern Peru following nearly two months of escalating protests in which three people have been killed and more than 200 injured.

Southern Copper Corp. President Oscar Gonzalez said in a statement that the “pause” would let all sides air concerns and “identify solutions.”

Protesters in Cocachacra, the epicenter of the conflict, said they have no intention of backing down from their demand that the $1.4 billion Tia Maria project be canceled.

Locals fear it will contaminate crops in the fertile Tambo valley. The company says the project would will take water from the Pacific Ocean and return it there after processing.

Earlier Friday, President Ollanta Humala said canceling the project would expose Peru to lawsuits and make it less attractive to investors.

Protests against the project in 2011 also claimed three lives.

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