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Barrick to start mediation effort at Peru mine

Barrick Gold Corp. chairman Peter Munk speaks during the annual general meeting of shareholders in Toronto in this May 2, 2012, file photo. Barrick lost more than $3-billion (U.S.) in the fourth quarter after a massive writedown on its African copper business.

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Barrick Gold Corp. said it would participate in a mediation effort on Friday at its Lagunas Norte mine in Peru to try to end protests by residents concerned about water supplies.

About 150 protesters have blocked the road leading to the mine, but so far production and operations have not been affected, an official at the world's top gold miner said. He added that some of the protesters were demanding jobs.

The mediation effort was organized by local officials.

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Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has urged mediation to avert hundreds of social conflicts between communities and companies nationwide over royalties, water supplies and other issues.

Lagunas Norte, which opened in 2005, was initially expected to last 10 years. It produced 763,000 ounces of gold in 2011.

Some drilling and technical work has been done on Lagunas Sur, an extension of Lagunas Norte. The company said it was drawing up an environmental impact study for Lagunas Sur.

The area is dotted with high-altitude lakes, and residents said this week they wanted to protect them and to see local water infrastructure improved.

In September, police clashed with protesters at Barrick's other Peruvian mine, Pierina. One person died and at least four were injured.

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