Three international experts will on Friday turn over to the government a report on water use that will be key in deciding whether the $4.8 billion Minas Conga copper gold project in Peru proceeds, Prime Minister Oscar Valdes said late Tuesday.

Valdes also said that the government won't accept any violence during protests taking place in Cajamarca, the region where the mine project is located.

"We are respectful of the protests. What we won't allow in any way are acts of violence that affect the free movement of other Peruvians who aren't taking part in the protests," Valdes said.

Anti-mining groups on Wednesday started a 24-hour protest against the Minas Conga project.
Television programs showed large groups marching in Cajamarca and chanting anti-mining slogans.
The project is being developed by Minera Yanacocha, run by Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM)
Violent protests last year led the government and Newmont Mining to delay the project. Protesters say water supplies will be damaged, although Yanacocha denies this.

"We urge the demonstrators to march peacefully and avoid engaging in violence or intimidation against residents and shopkeepers not participating in their general strike. Instead, we encourage the protest leaders to embrace dialogue to resolve any issues or concerns," Newmont said in a statement Wednesday.

"We agree that water must be the priority, which is why production of copper and gold would not start at Conga until the reservoirs providing a year-round supply of water to downstream communities are built," it added.
The government has sent troops and police to help keep order in the region.

An environmental impact study for the project was approved in 2010.

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Political analysts say ending the Minas Conga project would hurt the investment climate in Peru, which is one of the world's largest producers of copper, gold, zinc, silver, tin and other minerals.

Yanacocha hopes to have production up and running at Minas Conga by the end of 2014 or early 2015. Production is seen at an average annual output during the first five years of 580,000 to 680,000 ounces of gold and 155 million to 235 million pounds of copper.

Newmont has a 51.35% interest in Yanacocha, while Compania de Minas Buenaventura SA (BVN, BUENAVC1.VL) has a 43.65% stake in Yanacocha, while the International Finance Corp. has a minority stake.

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