MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: Calls for application of prior consultation law at Candente

Published by MAC on 2013-02-04
Source: Business News Americas,

Previous article on MAC: Peru: Violence at Candente Copper's min

Ombudsman calls for application of prior consultation law at Candente's Cañariaco Norte

By Tiffany Grabski

Business News Americas

31 January 2013

Peru's national ombudsman, Defensoría del Pueblo, has requested enforcement of the recently regulated prior consultation law for Canadian miner Candente Copper's US$1.47bn Cañariaco Norte copper-gold-silver project in Lambayeque region, according to the organization's environment, public services and indigenous peoples associate, Alicia Abanto Cabanillas.

The law was passed by congress in 2011, but only recently completed the regulation process with the drawing up of the registry of all the country's indigenous communities.

"Because the Kañaris population is of Quechua decent, they are protected under the law of prior consultation," Abanto said at a press forum held by Latin American NGO Comunicaciones Aliadas.

The request comes in response to recent protests that have erupted in the region demanding the company withdraw from the area.

In a letter to the minister's council (PCM), the country's ombudsman has suggested an investigation be made into Candente's compliance with the new law, which requires a minimum approval of two-thirds of the total registered population.

A legally-binding vote held by Candente in June 2012 returned 70% approval for the project, according to Candente, but the ombudsman has requested that the PCM review the documentation and confirm the total community population in order to ensure the new law's requirements have been met.

Peru's mines and energy ministry (MEM), on the other hand, recently ruled out the possibility of a new community vote, determining that the vote was legally-binding.

Candente CEO Joanne Freeze told BNamericas earlier this week that the social conflicts surrounding the Cañariaco Norte project have underlying "business interests," and have been linked to terrorist groups.

"It is pretty well known that this is not what it appears to be," Freeze said.

The ombudsman is required to protect indigenous people's rights and is acting in response to letters of complaint received from community members, Abanto said.

Results of the inquiry are expected to be released in the coming days, she added.

Production at Cañariaco Norte is estimated to start in 2018 producing 118,000t/y copper in concentrates, additionally containing close to 40,000oz gold and 1Moz of silver.

Terrorists said to be leading protests against Canadian miner in Peru

Cecilia Jamasmie

1 February 2013

Peru's watchdog, Defensoría del Pueblo, has asked the government to enforce the recently approved "prior consultation law" to Canadian miner Candente Copper's Cañariaco project in the country's north.

The law, passed by congress in 2011, but in use only since early January, was designed to comply with the International Labour Organization's (ILO) agreement on the rights of indigenous communities to participate in development projects on their land.

In a letter to the prime minister's office (PCM), published by Crónica Viva, the body says 65% of population in the area where the $1.5 billion Cañariaco copper-gold-silver project is located is Quechua descendent. Because of that it asked authorities to make sure Candente is complying with the new law, which requires a minimum approval of two-thirds of the total registered aboriginal population in the mine's proximity.

In early December, a group of protesters blocked access roads to the project and seized 10 subcontractors hired to conduct the project's environmental impact study (EIS). The incident was declared resolved, but last Friday at least four people were injured in a clash with police, while several hundred farmers protested against the company's planned mine and blocked roads leading to it for four days. sources as well as Candente CEO Joanne Freeze herself say people with "underlying business interests" are leading the protests against the project. They also claim those leaders have links with terrorist groups, such as the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) and the Shining Path.

"It is pretty well known that this is not what it appears to be," Freeze told BNamericas (subs. required) earlier this week.

"It is very important for us that the government finds out who are the sponsors that are hiding behind the agitators, so that the community and all the people here can understand what is really going on," Freeze added.

Peru's mining minister, Jorge Merino, said that demonstrators initially demanded a roundtable to foster dialogue, but now they are asking Candente to halt activities before agreeing to talks.

"We cannot allow that a company that is complying with the law is told to withdraw from community commitments because a small group want conditions on dialogue... it would send a very bad signal," Merino told Peruvian newspaper Gestión (in Spanish).

Mining drives Peru's economy, with growth forecast at more than 6% for 2013, but the social costs have been high, with several mining projects facing constant - and sometimes violent - opposition.

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