MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: Wikileaks, Mining Companies and Embassies

Published by MAC on 2011-02-07
Source: CooperAcción, Catholic News Service

Antamina, in Ancash Region, produces copper, zinc and molybdenum concentrates (and silver and lead concentrates as by products). BHP Billiton owns 33.75%, Xstrata 33.75%, Teck 22.5% and Mitsubishi Corporation 10%.

Yanacocha, the biggest gold mine in Latin America, is located in Cajamarca and is operated by Denver based Newmont Mining (holding a 51.35%), Peruvian firm Cía. de Minas Buenaventura (43.65%) and the International Financial Corporation (5%).

The Quellaveco mine, operated by Anglo American, is located in southern Moquegua  region and produces copper, molybdenum and silver concentrates. Anglo American also develops the Michiquillay copper proyect in the North of Perú.

Barrick Gold operates 2 gold mines in Perú: Lagunas Norte in Quiruvilca, Santiago de Chuco, and Pierina in Huaraz, Ancash.


Peru: Wikileaks, Mining Companies and Embassies

José De Echave C.


2 February 2011

The news has gone around the world. Wikileaks has revealed new diplomatic cables regarding meetings between representatives of key mining companies operating in Peru and the ambassadors of the US, Canada, Britain, Switzerland and South Africa. Countries that are the source of principle mining investments.

According to the cable, the directors of Antamina, Yanacocha, Quellaveco, Barrick and BHP Billiton were present for the meeting. At this stage, it isn't at all surprising that there would have been a meeting between Ambassadors and mining companies. What is remarkable is what was being requested: the cable indicates that the mining executives proposed that the Peruvian government be urged to rotate teachers who dissent, and priests in the Catholic church that support communities; and that NGOs are to blame for everything and should leave the country.

One of the conclusions of the meeting alludes to information that the companies have available: the cable notes that upon receiving key information from the companies, that diplomatic representatives would subsequently meet with the government, the Catholic church and leaders of political parties.

There is evidence that following this meeting, those present took action: after this meeting there was the operation against Father Marco Arana, recordings of conversations and emails from NGO representatives, biased behaviour of government ministers, media campaigns from the government and National Mining Society, teachers harrassed and rotated to different communities, hundreds of community leaders put through the courts, passage of laws to criminalize protest, and much more.

The information released confirms that these men believe they are the owners of Peru. Additionally, the cables reveal the crude strategy that companies have rolled out in order to address conflicts with communities: with the objective of getting those who dissent out of the way.

For years, mining companies have tried to end the resistance of communities in such ways as the cable reveals. They haven't achieved their goal, but they persist, pushing the country toward polarization and greater social tension. There is reason to be worried: the years pass and they continue the same strategy.

US diplomat was concerned about church workers in Peru's mining region

By Barbara J. Fraser

Catholic News Service

2 February 2011

LIMA, Peru - J. Curtis Struble, former U.S. ambassador to Peru, expressed concern in 2005 about church workers opposed to a mining project in the country's northern highlands, lumping them together with "violent radical leftists" and drug traffickers, according to a State Department cable released to a British newspaper by WikiLeaks.

Another cable recounts a meeting of mining company representatives and ambassadors from various countries with mining interests in Peru in which one executive asked the diplomats to "urge the Catholic Church to rotate bishops" working in areas where there were conflicts between communities and mining companies, the Guardian newspaper reported Feb. 1.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Lima said the State Department does not comment on the authenticity of the WikiLeaks cables or any information they contain.

Church officials were unavailable for comment.

The first cable describes protests in 2004 and 2005 against the mining company Minera Majaz, a subsidiary of the British company Monterrico Metals, by small farmers from communities near a planned copper and molybdenum mine. Environmental organizations said mining would damage the region's fragile, high-altitude wetlands, and farmers feared it would pollute the water they use for drinking and irrigation.

Government officials, company executives and some local media criticized church workers providing social services and legal aid to the communities during and after the conflict. When Bishop Daniel Turley Murphy of Chulucanas, Peru, an Augustinian missionary and native of Chicago, tried to intervene during the protests to promote dialogue among the mining company, government officials and farmers, an advertisement in a local newspaper referred to him as a terrorist.

The cable called the groups protesting the proposed mine "a strange group of bedfellows indeed -- the Catholic Church, violent radical leftists, NGOs, ronderos and perhaps narcotraffickers."

Ronderos are local civil-defense patrols organized by farming communities.

"These organizations are competing for a leadership role, but in some cases also cooperate," the cable says. "The extent to which the church is tied into the ronderos and radical left is both controversial and still open to question."

Monterrico Metals faces a lawsuit in England for alleged torture of local residents during the protests. The Chinese Zijin Group has since purchased a majority stake in the mine. The company has completed exploration but has not submitted an environmental impact study needed to begin operations.

The cable says Peruvian police believe that "opium traffickers have also played a role in stoking the violence," and that company representatives had said the proposed mine site was on a route used to transport opium latex to Ecuador. It calls that part of northern Peru "a priority target" of U.S. efforts to "collect intelligence on poppy cultivation and opium trafficking."

The U.S. Embassy in Lima was working with the Canadian, British, Australian, Swiss and South African embassies "with an eye to reducing anti-mining violence," the cable says. All of the countries are home to mining companies operating in Peru.

A second cable, also from August 2005, describes a meeting of diplomats from all of those countries except South Africa, in which a representative of Antamina, a mining consortium of Australian, Swiss, Canadian and Japanese companies, asked the diplomats to urge the Education Ministry to rotate teachers in areas where there were conflicts between communities and mining companies.

"He also suggested that the embassies urge the Catholic Church to rotate bishops operating in these regions," the cable says. "The ambassadors agreed to consider this but needed specific examples of anti-mining teachers and priests who engage in inappropriate activities."

The cable ended with a note saying that "pending key information from the mining companies," diplomats from the six countries were "ready to meet as a group" with Peruvian government officials and leaders of the Catholic Church and political parties.

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