Citibank to take over ‘Peru’s Chernobyl’

Creditors of the troubled Doe Run Peru company voted to sell the controversial metal smelting complex at La Oroya, Junín region, to Citibank, Peru’s Energy and Mines Ministry (MEM) announced Oct. 11. The New York financial giant will have responsibility for reorganizing the smelter’s debts and environmental management plan, as well as those of another scandal-ridden project that will be transferred, the Cobriza gold and copper mine in neighboring Huancavelica region. After three years of being idled by government order over pollution concerns, the decrepit Oroya smelter, which has been dubbed “Peru’s Chernobyl,” resumed limited operations in July. The local dispute over the issue bitterly divided the local community, pitting campesinos who oppose the smelter against residents employed by Doe Run, who were laid off when the plant was ordered shut. Last year, Doe Run Peru was cited by MEM for resuming construction of a tailings containment area at Cobriza without approval. The mine is still officially halted pending an environmental impact review. (Diario 16, Oct. 13; La Republica, Andina, Oct. 12; MineWeb, July 30; El Comercio, Oct. 18, 2011)