The Associated Press October 18, 2011, 6:36PM ET

Protest suspends big Peru gold mine

Latin America's biggest gold mine has temporarily suspended production after a road blockade and the sabotage of heavy equipment by Peruvian peasants who claim the mine is contaminating their water.

The Yanacocha mine's owners called the four-day-old protests "illegal and violent" in a statement Tuesday. Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp is the majority owner of the mine, which produces about 1.3 million ounces of gold a year.

A regional police official tells The Associated Press the protesters originally blocked access to the mine for all vehicles but are now only turning back Yanacocha workers and vehicles.

Mine officials say the peasants are seeking a payment of some $70 million for the community.

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