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Last Updated: Monday, 17 September 2007, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Peruvians vote against mine plan
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

Thousands of people in northern Peru have voted against plans for a huge mine on their land which they say will contaminate water and destroy crops.

More than 90% of voters in a referendum rejected the Rio Blanco mine proposals - but the Peruvian government said the result was not legally binding.

President Alan Garcia accused objectors of plotting to stymie economic growth.

Three communities said they were fed up with the environmental damage of mining without getting anything in return.

Minerals are Peru's biggest product and its gold, zinc and copper exports rank among the top five in the world.

But the mining companies provide little local employment and often pollute because of Peru's lax environmental laws.

Many poor communities say the foreign firms get richer while they receive little or no economic trickledown.

They say mining companies proposing new sites in their area should build new sewer systems and hospitals, or residents will oppose their projects.

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