Protests and blockades at Yanacocha gold mine, PeruPublished by MAC on 2011-10-25
Source: Reuters, Mining.com, Associated Press
Communities fear an approved expansion, called Minas Conga, will contaminate vital aquifers
In Chanta Alta, in Peru's La Encañada district, communities have blockaded the Cajamarca-Bambamarca road at Km 39.
The protesters, led by the local Mayor, are demanding the mining company fulfil economic agreements and protect local water sources and lagoons.
They are also concerned about the Minas Conga project, a massive Yanacocha expansion that comprises two copper and gold deposits called Perol and Chailhuagón 2.
Minas Conga is owned by Newmont Mining Corporation (51,35%), Compañía de Minas Buenaventura (43.65%) and International Finance Corporation (5%).
Newmont suspends work at Peru gold mine
17 October 2011
Newmont Mining halted work at its giant Yanacocha gold mine on Monday after protesters blocked an access road and torched eight pieces of earth-moving equipment, prompting the company to ask Peru's government to intervene.
Protests at Yanacocha. Source: www.caballeroredverde.blogspot.com
The mine, partly owned by Peruvian precious metals miner Buenaventura, said the drastic measure to suspend work was taken to ensure the safety of its employees.
The latest flare-up could test leftist President Ollanta Humala, who took office in July promising to calm conflicts between rural communities and companies. The conflicts have threatened to delay some 200 mining and oil projects nationwide.
"We've temporarily suspended work," Yanacocha said in a statement in which it "called on local and national authorities to do what is necessary to clear the roadblock and maintain a climate of peace and legality in the region."
Yanacocha, one of Latin America's largest gold mines, produced 1.5 million ounces of gold in 2010, some 1.6 percent of the world's output.
Shares of Buenaventura fell 3.1 percent to $40.54 and Newmont was down nearly 1 percent at $66.20, while spot gold was off slightly at $1,670 an ounce.
The protest was held as U.S.-based Newmont and Buenaventura try to move forward with a $4.8 billion project known as Minas Congas, which is essentially an expansion plan for Yanacocha. It would be the largest investment ever in a Peruvian mine.
Yanacocha officials said protesters are trying to pressure the mine to sign a community relations pact that would give local communities 200 million soles ($72 million).
The mine said the eight pieces of burned heavy equipment were worth $2 million and owned by a contractor. It said bulldozers, excavators and a grader were vandalized.
Besides the protest at Yanacocha, Humala's labor ministry has been trying for weeks to broker a new wage pact between striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan Cerro Verde copper mine, where some frustrated workers started a hunger strike on Monday.
Humala has raised taxes and royalties on mining companies in a bid to fund social programs in rural towns while also trying to lure new investment to the Andean country by keeping mainstream macroeconomic policies in place. So far his government has received pledges for about $15 billion in new investment, worth around 10 percent of gross domestic product.
Peru's Yanacocha Continues Metal Processing, Production
Dow Jones Newswires
17 October 2011
LIMA - Peruvian gold producer Minera Yanacocha SRL is continuing metal processing and production from ore stockpiles despite a roadblock that temporarily suspended mining in the pits, the company said.
"Mining in the pits has been temporarily suspended to ensure the safety of our shift-work employees," the company said in a statement sent by email on Monday.
Protesters from outside the Yanacocha area have set up "illegal" roadblocks to demand 200 million soles ($73.5 million) worth of contracts and investments, the company said. Yanacocha added that the protesters are not from "within the defined district to be eligible for such investments."
The company said it is working closely with authorities to have the roadblocks removed.
Yanacocha is Peru's biggest gold producer and turned out 1.5 million ounces of the precious metal in 2010.
It is 51.35% owned by Newmont Mining Corp (NEM), while Peru's Compania de Minas Buenaventura SAA (BVN, BUENAVC1.VL) also has a stake.
Peru is the world's sixth biggest gold producer.
Protesters lift blockage of big Peru gold mine
19 October 2011
LIMA - Protesters in Peru lifted their road blockade of Latin America's biggest gold mine late Tuesday in order to begin government-backed talks with the mine's owners, the mayor of the affected district said.
Yanacocha's owners had called the four-day-old protests "illegal and violent" and said they had cut back production after the access road was blocked and local peasants set ablaze back hoes, dump trucks and a bulldozer.
"We have suspended the blockade to open a dialogue on Thursday with directors of Yanacocha mine on a proposal made by the government," La Encanada Mayor Jorge Vasquez told The Associated Press.
He said that if an agreement isn't reached locals would remount the blockade.
Vasquez said the protesters fear an approved expansion of the gold mine, called La Conga, will contaminate aquifers essential to cattle farming that is the livelihood of its 27,000 residents.
Vasquez said the protesters, about 100 manning each of two road blockades, are demanding Yanacocha alter its plans to divert water from La Encanada marshland for use in gold ore processing.
"The La Conga project proposes to dry up four lakes and build two artificial ones in their sted, and that's a danger," he said, adding that protesters fear the recycled water would be contaminated.
Vasquez said he has asked Yanacocha representatives to redesign their environmental impact offsets to better benefit local peasants.
A spokeswoman for Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp., the mine's majority owner, said the peasants were demanding $73 million in contracts and investment for their community "even though they are not within the defined district that makes them eligible for investments."
The spokeswoman, Diane Reberger, said from Denver that while processing of ore is continuing at Yanacocha "mining in the open pits is limited to ensure the safety of our employees."
The protesters had initially blocked access to the mine for all vehicles but later turned turning back Yanacocha workers and vehicles, a local police official told The Associated Press, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Yanachoca officials estimate the mine will produce an estimated 1.3 million ounces of gold this year.
Newmont rides out Yanacocha protest as Peru government steps in
19 October 2011
Newmont Mining announced on Wednesday protesters are now allowing access to the Yanacocha gold mine in northern Peru. A local paper reported protesters decided to remove roadblocks following an agreement with the mines ministry and regional authorities.
Newmont on Monday was forced to shut down operations at Yanacocha, South America's largest gold mine with annual output of 1.5 million ounces. Newmont and local partner Buenaventura are also advancing a $4.8 billion project to expand the mine which would be the largest investment ever in Peru.
Newmont (NYSE: NEM) gave up 4.8% on Wednesday on a bad day for gold stocks across the board and the counter has now lost 6.8% since the news broke. The company is worth $30.8 billion the NYSE and has outperformed its peers and the S&P 500 this year - it is up 1.4% for 2011 versus a 5% decline in the broader market, a 9% thumping for Barrick, the world's number one gold producer, and the besieged Freeport McMoran which is worth a third less than it was at the start of the year.
Newmont on Wednesday urged protesters to continue three-way talks with the company and the government over their demands for more local investment. Protesters decided to lift the blockades following an agreement with the Mines and Energy Ministry and regional authorities, and plan to present a list of demands to Yanacocha Thursday according to newspaper El Comercio.
There are some 200 operating mines in Peru and protests and strikes have increased since July when left-leaning Ollanta Humala was sworn in as president. Reuters reports with a 65% approval rating Humala's political honeymoon has been sweeter than anyone predicted and it could go on for months if he can ramp up social spending even as a dismal global economy tempers Peru's long boom.
Reuters broke the news on Monday: Besides the protest at Yanacocha, Humala's labour ministry has been trying for weeks to broker a new wage pact between striking workers at Freeport-McMoRan Cerro Verde copper mine, where some frustrated workers started a hunger strike on Monday.
Investment site Trefis had a thorough look at the impact of the shutdown and believes although Yanacocha represents almost 25% of Newmont's total daily gold output the issue will be resolved soon and the overall impact of this closure will be much minimal.