MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: Social opposition to mining intensified in 2012

Published by MAC on 2012-12-17
Source: Business News Americas

Social opposition to mining in Peru intensified in 2012 

By Tiffany Grabski

Business News Americas

12 December 2012

Social opposition to mining projects in Peru reached new heights in 2012, according to the 11th mining conflict observatory report that was presented on Wednesday in capital Lima.

The report found 2012 to be one of the worst years of social conflict in recent history and cited high-profile cases such as US-based Newmont Mining's US$4.8bn Minas Conga project, multinational Xstrata's US$1.5bn Antapaccay as well as protests in Madre de Dios region against government efforts to legalize informal and illegal mining operations.

"Social conflicts related to mining have also become major political conflicts," co-director of NGO Cooperacción, Emma Gómez, said at the presentation.

"Ten years ago it was unthinkable that a mining conflict in an isolated part of the country could reach the front pages of main newspapers and remain there for various weeks in nearly all the media," she added.

President Ollanta Humala stated earlier this year that his government intended to create a "new relationship with mining activity" in the country. However, the new regulations that have been presented in 2012 are only a starting point for what is really needed, according to representatives of several NGOs involved in drawing up the report.

"The reforms that have been announced have not only generated expectations, but appear to be only a partial effort," Gómez said.

Land Use

One of the first steps to preventing social conflicts and making sure the land is being developed is a responsible and sustainable manner is the establishment of a land use law, according to the NGO representatives.

The territorial organization bill to regulate land use at a national level was expected to be drawn up by year-end but it has not yet been presented to congress.

Once established, a land use law will ensure investments are "responsible," which is fundamental in avoiding future conflicts, according to Gómez.

A representative of local NGO Fedepaz, Ana María Leyva Valera, told BNamericas that without regulations for territorial organization, regional governments, such as Piura, are struggling to start up the process themselves.

Cajamarca is the only region in Peru that has begun the process of territorial organization, with nine other regions undergoing ecological and economic zoning, a process which precedes territorial organization. According to Leyva, Piura has completed the zoning process, but the lack of national regulations has been hindering progress.

As of November 2012 more than 19% of Peru's national territory was under mining concessions, which together occupy nearly 50% of the Pacific water-basin region of the country, according to the national geology, mining and metallurgy agency, Ingemmet.

Ingemmet also reported a total of 167 active conflicts in Peru in October, 123 of which were socio-environmental in nature.

The 11th mining conflict observatory report was written by NGOs Cooperacción, Grufides and Fedepaz, and edited by Hiperactiva.

Southern Copper workers to strike - Peru

By Tiffany Grabski

Business News Americas

13 December 2012

Workers at US-based Southern Copper's (SCC) (NYSE, Lima: SCCO) Cuajone and Toquepala copper mines and its Ilo smelter will begin an indefinite strike on December 24 to demand higher wages, union representative Ricardo Juárez told BNamericas.

The workers requested a 20% general pay raise, which was later lowered to 15%, to which the company has counter-offered 5.5%, Juárez said.

The lowest offer the workers will accept is 13%, according the union representative.

SCC has expansions underway at both the Cuajone and Toquepala mines, totaling US$901mn planned investment over the next two years.

The expansions have also faced community protests, with a roundtable recently set up in the Moquegua region to discuss environmental concerns regarding Cuajone.

In May this year SCC said that it had spent US$100mn of the US$301mn budgeted for the Cuajone expansion, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of 1Q13. The Ilo smelter also sits in Moquegua region, while Toquepala is in Tacna.

SCC is one of the country's biggest copper producers, putting out a total of 209,146t of copper in January-August, according to the most recent mines and energy ministry statistics.

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