Peruvian Campesinos Tear Down Mining Gate

26 Aug

By Earth First! News

A gathering of campesin@s tore down a gate at the site of the controversial Conga Copper Mine in Peru on August 20. The farmers claim that Yanacocha, the company in charge of the mine, built the gate illegally in the first place, so there’s really no need to have it there.

The gate would impede a traditional path used by locals to access the important Laguna Namocoha, so campesin@s took up their farm implements and dug it out. National Police did not intervene. If a meeting is not held with campesinos, they have promised to tear down two other gates accessing lagunas Azul and Cortada

The Yanacocha mining company is actually a front for the Newmont Mining Company based in Denver, and they have a terrible reputation in Peru. In 2011, their existing gold mine was halted by a blockade, during which time eight machines were torched costing 2 million dollars and kneecapping their stock for some time.

The start of the new Conga Copper Mine has been halted for for over a year by local direct action, including large blockades. As recently as June, thousands of farmers and miners gathered at El Perol Lake to demonstrate against the obliteration of local fresh water.

This from Climate Connections:

“Over the course of the ongoing occupation of the Conga site, police have sometimes used violence but mostly sought to avoid confrontations that could win sympathy for the protesters. Quiet harassment of project opponents has continued unabated, however. On July 28, journalist César Estrada, who has documented the occupation for local media, was detained near the Conga site by agents of the National Police Special Operations Diectorate (DINOES) and men in orange safety vests who appeared to be Yanacocha workers—but, like the police agents, in ski masks. The men confiscated his camera, cell phone and wireless modem before releasing him. (Celendin Libre, Aug. 3)

Mobilizations against other mineral and energy develpoment projects in Cajamarca are gaining ground. Earlier this month, hundreds of campesino residents of San Marcos and Cajabamba provinces held a five-day cross-country march, dubbed the “March in Defense of the Condebamba Valley,” to oppose the operations of the Sulliden Shahuindo mining company, as well as unlicensed “informal” mining in the area, which they charge is contaminating local waters. (Servindi, Aug. 9 via Consulta Previa)

On Aug. 17, a public forum was held in the town of Celendín entitled “Hydro-electicity in the Amazon: Rivers, Life and Extractive Industries,” analyzing the dangers posed by 24 new dams planned for the watershed of the Río Marañón, and especially the Chadín 2 project, intended to spur further mineral development in Cajamarca. Researcher Antonio Zambrano Allende of Forum Solidaridad Perú said the new thrust of hydro development would result in “thousands of forced displacements” in the regions of Cajamarca and Amazonas. The highland region of Cajamarca straddles the continental divide that separates waters bound for the Pacific from those flowing into the Marañón, a major tributary of the Amazon. (AlertaPeru, Aug. 21 via Celendin Libre)

A new report by Peru Top Publications finds that mining investment in Peru in 2013 has reached a record $9.9 billion, a 15% increase over last year, with 54 major projects planned or already underway. Peru now ranks eighth in global mining investment, and its ranking will likely advance in the next two years. However, the report notes that the country currently lacks the energy capacity to meet the demands of the new mining projects, and a major expansion of the electricity sector will be necessary for the projected growth in the mineral sector. (La Republica, June 27)”

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