Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Battle lines drawn at lake “El Perol”
Cajamarca, Peru – June 16th, 2013
On Monday 17th of June thousands of local peasants will congregate on the banks of lake “El Perol”, in the Northern Peruvian Andes, to protest against the large-scale mining project known as Minas Conga.
This 4.8 billion dollar project owned by Minera Yanacocha, a joint venture of US-based mining company Newmont, Peruvian company Minas Buenaventura and the World Bank, aims to exploit 3069 hectares of land to extract copper and gold.
Through aggressive `open pit` extraction technology the project aims to destroy four mountain lakes – effectively be-heading a complex hydrological system which serves over 30,000 people in 200 rural communities. Remaining water reserves will most likely be polluted by heavy metals.
For the past 20 years Minera Yanacocha’s operations in the region have sensibly affected local water supply. Farmers in the area of influence have reported high levels of animal deformities, the extinction of water life forms, severe water shortage and unusually high rates of cancer, skin diseases and birth deformities.
Minas Conga represents an expansion of these activities – an expansion that will be three times the size of the current project. Residents of the three provinces that will be affected – Celendin, Hualgayoc and Cajamarca, have been protesting since November 2011. So far, resistance has been heavily repressed by police and the armed forces, causing five protesters’ deaths and leaving over 140 citizens injured.
After the deaths in July 2012, the mining company announced a two year suspension on the project. However, local inhabitants have kept constant vigilance and reported continuing construction of roads, water reservoirs and other infrastructure corresponding to the first stage of the project’s implementation.
The farce of the suspension was revealed last month when the company publically confirmed the completion of their first reservoir and their plan to finish the second within the year. Once the reservoir is completed, the Perol lake will be drained to begin construction of a 2km wide open pit. As Roque Benevides, a main shareholder of Yanacocha, states : ´this is the turning point of the project`. If the Perol lake can be drained, the entire project will follow.
This statement has effectively set the battlefield at the Perol: the future of the project, and of the thousands of people whose lives will be affected by it, will be decided here.
Notes to the editor:
For more information in Spanish about Minas Conga and the campaign against it please see www.celendinlibre.wordpress.com.