MAC: Mines and Communities

Tailings dam collapses in Huancavelica, Peru

Published by MAC on 2010-07-04
Source: Living in Peru, EFE

A Peruvian mining company has been accused of failing to maintain a tailings dam, which collapsed at the end of June, sending an estimated 5.7 million gallons of toxic wastes from silver, lead, copper and zinc extraction into a nearby river, which spread 70 kilometers downstream.

If confirmed, this would be one of the worst such disasters in Latin America over the past 15 years - matching one at the Omai gold mine in Guyana in 1996.



Tailing dam collapses and pollutes Opamayo river in Huancavelica, Peru

By Isabel Guerra

Living in Peru

28 June 2010

The tailing dams at Caudalosa Chica mine collapsed last Friday, spreading toxic waste into the Opamayo river, severely polluting the river and pastures in the province of Angaraes, in Huancavelica region.

According to Servindi, Carlos Candiotti, a local leader, said that this is an ecological disaster "never seen before in Huancavelica."

Candiotti appeals to national and international press to come to the area and check on the great impact of the disaster, since up to now press coverage has not paid much attention to it.

According to Servindi, local residents are mobilizing and preparing a demonstration, because they do not approve of the Caudalosa mines operations in the area, and their claims have allegedly been ignored by the authorities.

Opamayo river has been polluted in the last decades by Buenaventura and Caudalosa mines, according to local residents.

Mine Waste Pollutes River, Affects 10 Peruvian Communities


1 July 2010

LIMA - A spill at a mining company's waste well has polluted 80 percent of Peru's Opamayo River and affected 10 communities in the southern Andean region of Huancavelica, the official Andina news agency reported, citing regional authorities.

The river was contaminated last Friday with 21,420 cubic meters (5.7 million gallons) of waste after the containing wall of a reservoir containing those toxins collapsed.

The river, which flows into the town of Lircay, affected 892 people in the district of Huachocolca, the report said.

The spill also affected animals in areas near the river, prompting the mining firm, Empresa Minera Caudalosa Chica, to launch a cleanup and deliver water and fodder to local residents.

Andina said a delegation of mining and environmental officials, prosecutors and police have arrived at the site of the spill.

The Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations, or CAOI, which comprises groups from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Argentina, issued a statement Tuesday saying that the spill has affected more than 10 communities.

It added that the company failed to alert the population, "putting the lives of people, animals and crops that need the waters of these rivers for their survival in serious danger."

"Local authorities learned about the incident and inspected the area on Saturday, June 26," the CAOI said.

The statement said the mining company has committed "a criminal attack" against local peasants, because the latter "have consumed trout poisoned with lead and other toxic metals, and the animals kept consuming the polluted water."

The CAOI demanded that Caudalosa Chica "assume responsibility for this offense" and called on Peru's Energy and Mines Ministry to apply the maximum penalty because the company is operating "informally and without complying" with a legally required environmental-remediation program.

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