Monthly Archives: November 2011

From lakes to dumpsites: A short story about mining in Cajamarca, Peru


Environmental services are widely undervalued in mining projects in Peru. Recently, Cajamarca people protested against Conga gold mine by the transnational Newmont and Yanacocha companies.  Comments from the Ministry of Environment, Ricardo Giesecke, about the Environmental Impact Assessment has indicated potential irreversible damages to the higher parts of the watershed and the use of two lakes as dumpsites for the gold mine, while the other two lakes will be destroyed to extract gold.

This mine will “significantly and irreversibly transform the watershed, vanishing several ecosystems and fragmenting the rest, so that processes, functions and interactions and environmental services will be affected irreversibly” says the Minister of Environment.

It really hurts to see part of my ancestors’ land (my four grandparents are from Cajamarca) in the verge of destruction. The assimetry of information and power is simply disgusting, a powerful transnational, with the agreement of the Ministry of Energy and Mines vs. poor farmers, NGOs and recently the Ministry of the Environment, on my view, is not fair.

Who is then responsible? Is is the government? Is it Newmont? Is it us? We need to learn our rights and the government needs to help the people to improve their livelihoods according to what they want.  Transnationals are not doing anything illegal but  Peruvian mining laws allow big companies to proceed with projects when people living in the are do not want them. Knight-Piesold, the consultancy who did the Environmental Impact Assessment also holds part of the responsibility for not doing the EIA in a proper way, considering ALL and REAL environmental costs and impacts of the mine.

See an article by journalist Gustavo Gorriti in Spanish at: