EARTHWORKS

Protests, resignations, and flawed EIS plague Newmont’s Conga gold mine in Peru

Nick Magel's avatar
By Nick Magel

November 29, 2011

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Paolo Aguilar / EPA - Farmers from Piedra Redonda El Amaro during a strike organized in the region of Cajamarca to protest the mining project of Conga, on November 24.

Opposition is stacking up higher and higher against Newmont’s $4.8 billion mega gold project in Peru. Here is a quick run down of things that are beginning to impact whether this project is longer feasible, or not.

Political -
Today the Deputy Minister of the Environment, Jose de Echave, resigned in protest. Echave said that the Humala government "lacks an adequate strategy for dealing with social conflict." He also raised concerns about the weakening on the Ministry Environment after being restructured to defer to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers

La Republica: Jose de Echave renuncio al viceministerio del ambiente
Washington Post / AP: Peru environment official resigns amid protests by peasants who fear mines will harm water

There is growing tension between the Ministry of Mining and the Ministry Environment. Last year the Ministry of Mining supported and approved Newmont’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the Conga mine. However, after growing protests the last few weeks the Ministry of the Environment has reviewed the EIS and concluded that it had lacked comprehension and needed further evaluation because it would “cause drastic changes to the ecosystem”. Not a ringing endorsement for Newmont’s EIS for Peru’s largest ever mining investment

IDL-Reporteros: De lagunas a desmontes
Peru 21: Piden mayor evaluacion Conga

Social-
Today is the sixth day is a sustained strike that has crippled the Cajamarca region. The protests have been sporadic in the past few weeks after being called on by the Regional President, Gregorio Santos, however the most recent wave of protests have been building day by day in numbers and urgency. Groups ranging in the thousands have been occupying central plazas and coordinating marches to guard the lakes threatened by Newmont’s Conga project. The Conga project has gone from a forgone conclusion during the Garcia administration to a major moment in the new administration that communities and companies are using to measure up the new Humala administration’s intentions.

AP: Peru's highlands conundrum: gold vs. water
MSNBC: Peruvian highlanders highlight mine's environment impact
AFP: Peru mining protest closes airport

Environmental -
As written above there has been tension between the Environmental and Mining Ministries. It’s clear that upon review the Environmental Impact Statement is far from complete.

RPP: Plantean nuevo EIA del proyecto Conga para acabar con paro en Cajamarca

Also disconcerning is Newmont's obvious lack of concern for the environmntal impacts mining brings to the region. Newmont is proposing to mine a high-altitude ecosystem that coincidentally is protected in Colombia because if its fragility; Newmont also wants to remove 4 lakes and replace them with man-made reservoirs (3 for drinking, and the biggest to hold mining waste); and finally Newmont is proposing a mine site at the headwaters of multiple rivers. These factors alone demand an EIS that is developed with full due-diligence and accountability, not with expediency and rubber-stamping.

Reuters: Police, protesters clash over Newmont's Peru mine
La Plataforma Interinstitucional Celendina (PIC) via Servindi: REPORT: Perú: “El proyecto Conga de Yanacocha es inviable” aseguran celendinos

Tagged with: yanacocha, water pollution, peru, no dirty gold, newmont, mining, international, conga

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