Peru: government ultimatum to illegal miners

Peru's government has issued an "ultimatum" to small-scale artisanal miners in southern Puno region, saying that if they do not remove their dredges and other equipment from the watersheds of the Ramis and Suches rivers (which both flow into Lake Titicaca), they will be dynamited. The warning was made by Daniel Urresti, high commissioner for Formalization and Interdiction of Mining. "We would be grateful if these people abandon the area and take their machinery with them, because when we arrive we are going to conficate it, and those which weigh 20 or 30 tons and are impossible to confiscate, we will detonate," he told RPP radio. He said the operation is set to begin in December. (Terra, Nov. 6)

The statement follows weeks of protests by informal miners in several regions of the country, demanding "formalization" of their claims. A clash with National Police troops was reported Oct. 2 from a miner roadblock at Huamachuco, La Libertad region. The Regional Federation of Artisanal Miners and Small Producers of La Liberatd (FREMARLIB) said two miners were killed in the confrontation, and several wounded and detained.

The strike was called Sept. 30 by the National Confederation of Artisanal Miners (CONAMI), with actions reported from La Libertad, Piura, Cajamarca, Apurímac, Ayacucho, Huánuco, Puno, Cuzco, Arequipa, Ica and Madre de Dios. (Prensa ITV; "Chimú, El Reino de la Verdad," Yahoo Groups, Oct. 2)

Andrés Franco, vice president of Canada-based Bear Creek Mining, said at a Lima press conference Nov. 6 that mining companies in Peru have made gains in reducing social conflicts related to their operations. He cited the efforts of the government's National Office for Dialogue and Sustainability (ONDS), and said his company will continue to cooperate with the office. Bear Creek's operations were the issue behind a weeks-long regional strike in Puno two years ago. (América Economía, Andina, Nov. 6)

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