MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru: Protests mobilise again at Newmont's Conga mine

Published by MAC on 2014-01-24
Source: Statements,

As predicted in an article on MAC (Damage to Peruvian Amazon from gold mining worse than reported), protest has once again come to Newmont's Conga mine. 

It is perhaps no surprise that what the protestors call a popular mobilisation has been cast as lawless anarchy by elements of the mass media.

U.S. Federal Court Action Requests Information from Newmont Regarding Repression of Protests at its Conga Mine Project

EarthRights International (ERI) press release

24 January 2014

Denver - EarthRights International (ERI) filed an action in federal court today on behalf of a protestor paralyzed by police violence at the site of Newmont Mining's Conga mine project in Peru. ERI is seeking documents and information from Newmont to assist in pending legal proceedings in Peru related to the police repression of protestors against the Conga project.

Elmer Eduardo Campos Álvarez, a 32-year-old resident of the Cajamarca department, where the Conga project is planned, lost a kidney and his spleen and was paralyzed from the waist down on November 29, 2011, when police officers shot him in the back while he was peacefully protesting. Mr. Campos was among at least 24 protestors injured by police that day.

The Yanacocha mining company - a Newmont subsidiary - contracted with the Peruvian National Police for the provision of security services at the planned mine site, and the police officers involved in the repression of November 29, 2011 have told local prosecutors that they were providing security to the company. The proposed Conga mine has generated strong community opposition; the project would mean the destruction of lakes held sacred by local people, who depend on the lakes as a major source of water.

"Police repression of social protest against mining operations is endemic in Peru and around the world," said Benjamin Hoffman, ERI's Amazon Staff Attorney. "The problem is exacerbated in cases like this one, where public police officers are deployed in the service of private security. We hope this action will shed more light on the situation and assist in obtaining justice in Peru."

Mr. Campos is seeking information held by Newmont - including photographic and video evidence, reports of Yanacocha security or employees, records of communications with the police, and internal company communications - that shed light on the events of that day.

If provided, the requested information will assist Peruvian legal authorities currently investigating the incident in both a pending criminal investigation against the two commanding police officers and a civil lawsuit brought by Mr. Campos against the police and other government actors.

"Justice," said Mr. Campos, "means first that there is a real investigation to determine who was responsible, and that they pay for their crimes, and second, that the government fulfills its responsibility to protect its citizens and the environment, rather than forcing a destructive mining project on its citizens through abusive police conduct."

"We hope the action in the United States supports the legal efforts underway in Peru to seek justice, accountability and greater protection for human rights, and helps to end a culture of impunity for police repression of legitimate protest activity," said Mar Pérez of the National Human Rights Coordinator, which is representing Mr. Campos as an aggrieved party in the criminal investigation.

The federal court motion was filed under 28 U.S.C. § 1782, a law which allows parties to foreign legal proceedings to obtain documents and information from individuals or companies in the United States in service of foreign proceedings.

In addition to EarthRights International, Mr. Campos is represented in the federal court action by Gail Johnson of Johnson, Brenner & Klein, PLLC, based in Boulder, Colorado.


Rick Herz (U.S.): (860) 233-4938, rick[at]
Benjamin Hoffman (Peru): +51-959-284295, benjamin[at]

EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as "earth rights." We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns, and have offices in Southeast Asia, the United States and Peru. More information on ERI is available at

Conga: Successful mobilisation, distortion by mass media

17 January 2014

Yesterday, Thursday 16th January, thousands of villagers gathered at over 4000 feet about sea level at the lagoons of Conga, to demonstrate, once again, the overwhelming local rejection of the Conga mining project.

On the side of Celendin, the population came from every corner of the province and culminated at El Perol lagoon, the first would-be target of the Conga mining project. The company has already asked for government permission to drain the mountain lake to prepare for extraction.

They came on foot and on horseback, as all vehicles were retained at the blockade the mine has enforced on the communal road. Milton Sanchez Cubas, President of the Platforma Interinstitucional Celendina (PIC), affirmed that over 1,500 arrived on foot, accompanied by 300 on horseback.

When they arrived at El Perol they encountered about 16 individual, locals who have been contracted to work for the mine - the supposed 32 communities, who were heavily guarded by the National Police of Peru. The true representatives of the entire province did not engage in this provocation, instead they peacefully carried out their Assembly as planned. At this Assembly they reaffirmed the province´s complete and utter rejection of the Conga mining project - constituting as it does a threat to their lives and the lives of generations to come, and restated their commitment to defend their water until the threat has gone.

On the Bambamarca side, similarly the locals gathered from all corners of the province at the Namacocha lagoon, including a delegation from Cajamarca lead by the ´Agua si, Oro no´ musicians Tinkari. The plan was to march to join their fellow Guardians at El Perol but due to the heavy police presence and various blockades this was impossible. Edy Benevides, President of the Defense Front of Bambamarca, declared on Nueva DjRadio that on route they encountered machinery from the mine - a provoking find given the project is still supposedly suspended and still lacks a social licence. The ronderos have demanded that the machinery be removed.

Terrorists and Vandals

At approximately midday yesterday reports emerged that a telephone mast had been set alight near the Namacocha lagoon. This was immediately attributed to the protesters which lead to a barrage of reports in the national media that ´terrorists´, ´extremists´ and ´vandals´ had ´disrupted the peace´ in Conga (one being Canal Fashion "N").

However others tell a difference story. Reporter Jorge Pereyra writes that it was actually workers of Yanacocha who set the telephone mast alight, in order to achieve what was achieved - mass slander of the protesters. Campaign leaders of both Bambamarca and Celendin - Edy Benavides and Milton Sanchez Cubas, both negated that violence had taken place.

Pereyra also reports that a number of protesters were arbitrarily detained by the police and transferred to firstly La Encañada and then to Cajamarca. Furthermore, a police infiltrator, who goes by the name of RIVELINO PEREZ MOROCHO, was detained by the Rondas Campesinas for filming and collecting information at the manifestation.

International Observers

Also joining the protesters, and possibly a reason why the police didn't use their new ´licence to kill´ powers, were various international observers from countries such as Canada, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, France and Colombia. The eyes of the world continue to look towards Cajamarca and the injustice draws solidarity from all corners.

Newmont's Conga opponents vandalize mine site, kidnap worker

Cecilia Jamasmie

17 January 2014

Newmont Mining's partner in Peru, Minera Yanacocha, said about 750 protesters entered land owned by the company Thursday evening, destroying a telephone tower and abducting a contract security guard, who was freed early Friday.

Police are still holding four individuals, one of whom was allegedly carrying a revolver, in connection with protests held yesterday in the Conga region of the company property.

"Yanacocha reiterates its respect for all types of social expressions, providing they do not affect the integrity of people, private property, or the development of infrastructure that is a common good for all of Cajamarca," the company said.

Newmont halted Conga's construction in 2011, saying it would focus on winning the support of local communities.

Minera Yanacocha, one of the two local companies working with Newmont in the endeavour, has been holding talks with communities close to the proposed gold and copper mine, hoping to persuade them to support the project.

The local company already operates the Yanacocha gold mine in northern Peru, Latin America's largest, located next to the proposed pit.

Protests against Conga, the largest ever single private investment in Peru, are nothing new. In 2012, a violent demonstration left a number of people dead and forced President Ollanta Humala to order a suspension of all work at the site, except for the construction of water reservoirs.

Located roughly 3,700 meters above sea level, the $5 billion project was approved in 2010 by then-president Alan Garcia's government, and the current administration has continued to support it.

The mine, capable of producing up to 350,000 ounces of gold and 120 million pounds of copper per annum with a 19-year life of mine, was supposed to begin production in early 2015. But after years of disruptions, Newmont warned last April that it was willing to reallocate capital to projects in other countries such as Australia, Ghana, Indonesia and the US.

All Newmont has officially said about this in the past three months is that a restart at Conga is "not imminent."

Peruvian miner Buenaventura is also involved in the project, holding close to 44% ownership in the venture.



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