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Peru deploys military amid violent anti-mining protests, deaths

By Andrew V. Pestano

LIMA, May 10 (UPI) -- The Peruvian government has deployed its military near a southern copper mine following weeks of violent protests, including the death of a police officer on Saturday.

Soldiers will be deployed to keep the peace near the Tia Maria copper mine where local residents are protesting, arguing the mine will ruin the environment and damage agriculture if operational.

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Mexican-owned mining company Southern Peru plans to invest about $1.4 billion in the project.

"Tia Maria project will use state of the art technology which would be compliant with the highest international environmental and sustainable development standards," according to the company's website.

Three people have died since the latest set of protests erupted in March. The project has been continuously delayed since 2009 due to environmental issues, but it received its final approval in 2014.

"We haven't lost hope that dialogue is resumed. Meanwhile, we are taking measures to help maintain law and order," President Ollanta Humala said.

Troops will help local police protect roads, bridges, ports and tunnels. About 160 police officers have been injured in protests.

Peru's government may declare a state of emergency if the situation in the southern province of Islay deteriorates.

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