Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
The inhabitants of the small village of San José have reported that more than a score of their cows have died since they discovered the emission of contaminated water in the springs located beneath Minera Yanacocha’s Proyecto Chaupiloma Sur next to their community a year ago.
Since March 2014 when they discovered the contaminated water, more than a score of animals have died, the inhabitants of San José reported.
The inhabitants are extremely concerned, as the loss of their animals has a serious impact on their economic capital. Furthermore, this can also have a negative impact on their health as they consume both the milk and the meat from these animals.
As is known, the community of San José suffers from quite serious environmental problems, mainly due to the quality of water coming from their springs. This water is consumed by humans and is used in breeding animals.
It is worth noting that San José was the first place where Minera Yanacocha closed one of their mines. According to the mining company, they “successfully closed the mine”. However, they left behind a huge liability, namely contaminated water.
The Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) has not as yet delivered the Final Report.
After the complaint was made about the contaminated water last November, OEFA Lima published an Initial Report disclosing the presence of acid water which exceeds the maximum limit for human consumption by more than 200%. What is missing is a Final Report on the presence of heavy metals.
The lawyer, Mirtha Vásquez, Director of GRUFIDES, called the authorities- Fiscalía del Medio Ambiente (FIMA) and OEFA- to get them to take action, “because it is inexcusable that the people of San José continue to be exposed to the contamination and it must be looked into. This problem merits immediate attention”, she said.
The Inefficiency of the Government
Environmental problems such as those of San José detected in Cajamarca demonstrate the inefficiency of the government in resolving urgent problems caused by mining, such as the Minera Yanacocha case, which has yet to be resolved.
“The water we consume and give to our animals is a huge concern for the San José community, not only because the animals drink it, but also because it is the water the entire community consumes”, stated Teófilo Castrejón, President of the village’s “Rondas Campesinas” (Rural Patrol).
“FIMA has become a referral entity. This is not their job as it is not in compliance with their functions”, the lawyer Mirtha Vásquez declared.
When the company Minera Yanacocha offered to solve the problem, they offered a permanent cistern to supply drinking water to the 102 families living in the area. However, to date they have only left a cistern that does not provide drinking water every day, which is insufficient to provide water for everyone.