Peru: new environmental review of Conga project submitted —as protests continue

The special panel charged with conducting a review of the environmental impact study for the controversial Conga gold mining project in Peru’s northern Andean region of Cajamarca handed its findings in to the central government April 17, and the 260-page document was posted to the website of the Environment Ministry (MINAM). The review calls for “better guarantees” of protection of local watersheds, and states that “alternatives should be evaluated” to filling alpine lakes with mine tailings. But both Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal and the document’s authors—three European experts, two Spaniards and one Portuguese—emphasized that the study’s purpose is just to make “technical recommendations,” not to determine the Conga project’s viability; This is a reversal of how the review was portrayed for months prior to its release. (Reuters, April 18; Peru This Week, RPP, EFE, La Republica, April 17)

In Cajamarca city, opponents of the project have since last week’s general strike maintained an ongoing plantón (protest vigil) in the Plaza de Armas, the town’s central square. Large sheets of paper are spread on the ground, for public comments and testimony. These range from simple slogans—“Agua si, Oro no” (Water yes, Gold no), “Agro sí, no a la minería” (Agriculture yes, No to mining)—to accounts from campesinos of abuses and threats from the Yanacocha mining company aimed at removing them from their lands. (Caballero Verde, April 16)

See our last posts on Peru and the struggle in Cajamarca.

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