Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
YANACOCHA AND THE FARCE OF ARTIFICIAL RESERVOIRS
By . Eng. Secundino SILVA URQUIA ( * )
Let`s consider what the propaganda of Yanacocha SRL says of its artificial reservoirs :
Propaganda claim No.1 – ” Because there is an increasing abundance of water during the rainy season and the months of the dry season are becoming more intense.” (i.e. Yanacocha says the reservoirs would save water from the rainy season to release during the dry season). If there is some truth in this text it is due to the effects of global warming. So if there is a mining company that prides itself on responsible care of the environment, is totally counterproductive to design and choose to run a mega mining project that involves the destruction of areas that are at the head of water basins, leading to destruction of already fragile ecosystems that are sensitive to extraction. So phrases such as the above do not work in their attempt to fool or confuse the people.
Propaganda claim No.2 – “Due to bedrock that exists in the area, the rainwater does not infiltrate … ” . (i.e. the lagoons do not provide water to the surrounding areas because the water cannot pass through the floor of the lagoon). The phrase “bedrock ” is inconsistent and lacking in technicality; and that “rain water doesn`t infiltrate the floor of the lagoon” is a laughable and grotesque assertion, equivalent to denying the existence of water. Any person with common sense knows that natural vegetation grows and exists in the area – because the rainwater infiltrates the soil and creates humidity, generating the physical and chemical conditions for life.
The muddy layers of soil and clay that make up the bottom of the lagoons are neither highly permeable to let water escape in a short time, nor are they one hundred percent waterproof. Its permeability exists and is minimal, but enough to ensure that the stored water permanently sustains the aquifers and springs, even when it rains. Everything has an origin, and the water does not come out of nowhere: it is sourced and stored in the high altitudes and then flows down to feed the wetlands and rivers below. With absurd and misleading propaganda, Yanacocha SRL aims to hide the destruction of the environment, through blasting the hills apart with dynamite, to justify the destruction of an area of natural water storage which exists in the highlands (lakes , wetlands , aquifers , etc.), to ignore the prevention of infiltration and circulation of natural and clean water, to mock the disappearance of springs and rivers, and finally, to leave the water contaminated which will lead to the death of flora, fauna and the future generations of Cajamarca.
They want the public to believe that the water and the soil that they contaminate above will not flow down; that is, Yanacocha and their supporters claim that Isaac Newton`s law of gravity does not apply to Cajamarca.
Propaganda claim No.3. – “Because the lagoons are not an important water source during the dry season, and they only overflow with water during the rainy season.” This is a crude way of underestimating the importance of the lakes to try to justify their destruction. These lagoons overflow only when the soil layers and surrounding wetlands are a hundred percent saturated, storing millions of cubic meters of water which is then filtered gradually to aquifers throughout the year, so there is water in the hundreds of springs and various rivers and even when it doesn`t rain. This entire water system, fragile and complex, exists in Cajamarca in place of the snowy mountains and glaciers that guarantee water supply in other regions. The people of Cajamarca would need to be suicidal to allow such an ecological crime as the running of the mega mining project CONGA in the area. Even more so given the “Yanacocha style solution” that comes after the mining mega destruction – to try to deceive and silence the public: that is to drill through the disturbed soil, reach the new level of the water table and pump in acidic water, and where once there was a spring place a hose, and where once there was a river put three or four hoses and through these hoses pump contaminated water used in the mining process (see photo).
Yanacocha`s artificial reservoirs are gullies serving to empty the water from the lagoons of the same name – piercing the earth`s crust to make huge open pits to extract the gold beneath. What gift is this? They say “putting in a pin to pull out a pickaxe “; what they do NOT say is that to do this they have to blow up and destroy hills, plains, lakes, wetlands etc.. Water from their reservoirs will disappear through the cracks generated by their explosions, which has already happened in their now useless “San Jose reservoir “. And if not, contamination is inevitable, because the rain will drag the toxic sediments into the rivers and the building of access roads will destroy vegetation.
What they also do NOT tell to us Peruvians, is that these reservoirs will last, at most, fifty years, whereas the lagoons are eternal. What they do NOT tell us is that these artificial ponds will need maintenance and their water, being stagnant, will need permanent and costly treatment – whereas the lagoons have no maintenance cost. And finally what they also do NOT say to the Peruvians, is that at least one of these reservoirs will be exclusively for mining use and with the amount of water that they need (what a family consumes in twenty years, they consume in an hour) would ultimately lead to less water than before for the use of the population. And what little remains, will flow full of contamination to the valleys below.
All of this is what they cannot refute, even the most qualified technicians of Yanacocha SRL, because “the sun cannot be covered with a little finger”.
For all the above and more CONGA IS TOTALLY NONVIABLE AND CANNOT HAPPEN TODAY, OR EVER.
( * ) Chairman of the Support Committee for Celendín-Cajamarca .