By Omar Mariluz
LIMA, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Opponents of Newmont Mining's $4.8 billion Conga project refused to end their rallies on Wednesday, saying Peru must permanently cancel the proposed mine after temporarily halting work on it to avert violence.
Local political leaders want President Ollanta Humala to stop the gold mine from being built, saying the biggest mining investment in Peruvian history would replace a string of alpine lakes with artificial reservoirs and cause pollution.
Newmont and the government late on Tuesday suspended construction work for the time being after 30 people were injured when police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and at least two live rounds at protesters. The government urged both sides to negotiate an accord but faced resistance. [ID:nN1E7AS1E9]
"We demand that the government issue a legal decree cancelling the project," Wilfredo Saavedra of the Environmental Defense Front of Cajamarca told Reuters.
"We will continue our protest. We want to see the miner pull its machinery out of the area," he said.
Gregorio Santos, who is the president of the region of Cajamarca and has helped lead protests now in their seventh straight day, said the mine must be scrapped.
The Conga impasse has become the biggest test yet for Humala, a left-wing former military officer who reinvented himself as a moderate to win election in June.
If the mine is eventually built, it would solidify Humala's reputation as a friend of big business who can ensure stability for $50 billion of planned mining and oil projects.
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