Peru: peasants protest Chinese mining project

The campesino communities of Ayavaca and Huancabamba in Peru’s northern Piura region held assemblies Aug. 16 and issued a statement pledging to resist recently announced plans by Chinese mining company Zijin to move ahead with the long-contested Río Blanco copper project. The communities cited the need to protect threatened watersheds, wetlands and cloud forests in the high Andean region, noting that they have been officially listed as “fragile ecosystems” under Peruvian law. The local jalca ecosystem, which exists only in Peru’s northern Andean regions near the border with Ecuador, is richer in water than the more arid high plains known as punas elsewhere in the country. Read the statement: “Ayavaca and Huancabamba are today more alert than ever and ready to commit our lives for the defense of water for future generations.” (Megaproyectos, Aug. 16; CONDESAN)

The struggle against the Río Blanco project has seen the assassination of local campesino leaders. Local communities rejected the project in a popular referendum or consulta in 2007. Zijin is one of China’s largest gold and copper producers, and was in 2010 responsible for a devastating toxic spill in Guangdong province.

Another Chinese mining giant, Chinalco, is at the center of a controversy over the forced relocation of campesino communities at Toromocho, Junín region.

See our last post on China in Latin America.