Peru: Newmont behind water authority shake-up?

US-based Newmont Mining is facing a new controversy concerning the pending Conga mega-mine, to be developed by its majority-owned subsidiary in Peru's Cajamarca region. Milton Sánchez, leader of the Interinstitutional Platform of Celendín, charged that the Yanacocha mining company is preparing to start removal of water from Laguna El Perol to an artificial reservoir in order to facilitate turning the site of the lake into an open-pit mine. He further charged that Peru's National Water Authority has changed the director of its local administrative region, VI Marañón, in order to allow this work to move ahead. Sánchez said the new regional director, Carlos Enrique Gastelo Villanueva, was brought in after his predecessor refused to sign off on "relocation" of the lake. Sánchez said his followers are prepared to begin a sit-in at the regional offices of the Water Authority if approval is given for the water transfer. (Celendin Libre, Sept. 11)

Early August saw a three-day First International Meeting of Guardians of Water and Mother Earth in Cajamarca region, with activities held in the local provinces of Celendín and Hualgayoc. Activists attended from throughout Peru, as well as Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Spain, France and elsewhere. French senator Laurence Cohen was among the speakers. (Servindi, Aug. 11)