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

Standard

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: http://idl-reporteros.pe/2011/11/25/de-lagunas-a-desmontes/

Advertisements

About sandravelarde

Peruvian Forest Engineer (UNALM) and MSc. in Ecological Economics (University of Edinburgh, UK). I am a natural resource management specialist. My experience is in socio-economics in tropical forests, evaluating the trade-offs across different land uses: biodiversity, carbon,and profitability (FAO, ASB, ICRAF). My PhD thesis at the Australian National University (ANU) is about tree planting for bioenergy. My passion: Planning and capacity building, using participatory methods, like Future Scenarios (CIFOR, ASB, ICRAF, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment). Currently working as Economist / transdisciplinary scientist at the New Zealand Forest Research Institute (Scion).

One response »

  1. Amost a year has passed since this social conflict started. The local, national and regional government have not been able to come to an agreement with Yanacocha mine. Five deaths, two ‘independent’ environmental impact assessments done, and state-of-emergency status was declared in Cajamarca this year (2012). When did the dialogue break down? As a Peruvian citizen, I ask for more openness. There has to be a way out of this mess. Without taking any side, I ask the President of Peru, Ollanta Humala, that solving this conflict should be a top priority. I care, my family is from Cajamarca and while all the police is involved in calming the riots, there is no police left to guard other people’s interest to private property. This problem is not only affecting people living around the Conga mine, but the whole country. Dear President, please show some leadership!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s