Peru declares state of emergency over Conga mine

Independent miner Isidro Jayo employs mercury to separate the gold from the gravel at his mine near Nambijain southern Ecaudor, on Feb. 28, 2008.</p>

Independent miner Isidro Jayo employs mercury to separate the gold from the gravel at his mine near Nambijain southern Ecaudor, on Feb. 28, 2008.

Peru's president, Ollanta Humala, declared a state of emergency Sunday in the country's northern region, which has been besieged by violent protests over a highlands gold mine.

The 60-day state of emergency takes effect across four provinces of Cajamarca state, the Associated Press reported. It restricts the right to assembly and allows arrests without warrants.

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Protesters have been angry with a gold and copper mining project, primarily owned by the US-based Newmont Mining Corporation. Local elected officials have led the protests against the project, which is worth 4.8 billion dollars. The officials are reportedly fearful the mine will hurt water supplies affecting thousands of people in the area.

Humala said in a televised address Sunday that the government "has exhausted all paths to establish dialogue as a point of departure to resolve the conflict democratically," the Associated Press reported. He blamed the conflict on "the intransigence of a sector of local and regional leaders."

Cajamarca state's governor, Gregorio Santos, has been leading the protests and vowed to continue the fight against the mine project.

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