Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
A guest post by Keith Slack, Global Program Manager, Extractive Industries
January 29th, 2013
Mining industry big-wigs will gather in South Africa next week for Mining Indaba, billed as the “world’s largest mining investment conference.” As has become de rigeur in recent years at this kind of event, there will be some discussion of social and environmental “sustainability” issues. The final day of the event is in fact devoted to this and boasts an impressive-sounding set of panels featuring mining company CEOs, World Bank executives, government officials, and a smattering of NGOs. This is consistent with a recent spate of mining sector sustainability initiatives including, among several others, the International Council on Mining and Metals’Resource Endowment series, which looked at how mining can contribute more to economic development.
While this attention to sustainability is in general positive, it hasn’t driven the fundamental change in industry practice that is urgently needed. US-based Newmont Mining’s history in Peru is one example. Following a series of problems in Peru and elsewhere in the mid-2000s, the company commissioned a report that produced recommendations on improving its relationships with local communities. The company’s implementation of these recommendations has been spotty at best. Last year it was forced to postpone its massive Mina Conga project in the face of community opposition. In December the company released another damning external review that described a “state of fear” among communities living near the mine. Clearly the learning from past reviews hasn’t sunk in with company management.
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