On 21 May 2012, agricultural leadership in Espinar Province announced a strike against the planned expansion of Tintaya mine, a copper mine owned by the Swiss corporation Xstrata. The leaders' demands included higher environmental standards, more money for area development, and independent oversight of the mine. Strikers occupied the roads to the mine over the following week, blocking all access. In response, President Ollanta Humala declared a state of emergency in the province, suspending constitutional rights, and deployed police commandos against the strikers. Two civilians were killed in the resulting clashes, and seventy police officers were injured. On 30 May, provincial mayor Oscar Mollohuanca was arrested by the national government and accused of inciting protests against an expansion of a copper mine owned by Xstrata. He was conditionally released on 13 July.
The people in the province are mainly indigenous citizens of Quechua descent. Quechua is the language which the majority of the population (68.90%) learnt to speak in childhood, 30.75% of the residents started speaking in Spanish (2007 Peru Census).