MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Majaz: The anti-miners again"

Published by MAC on 2005-08-04

Majaz: The anti-miners again"

By José De Echave, Cooperaccion

La Republica Newspaper, Perú

Thursday August 4, 2005

Tambogrande, Quilish, San Cirilo, Tintaya and now Majaz; the conflicts in the mining regions multiply and the arguments never change. For the mining companies, authorities and some in the media, "all this is a product of anti-mining groups that are opposed to investment." A recent editorial stated that with the closing of CONACAMI the problem was practically resolved. And if can be, they suggest that the priests should also be locked up, at least in their churches. It doesn't matter if the facts point to the contrary: the president of the National Society of Mining didn't listen to the mayor of Majaz when he dismissed suggestions that Church representatives were behind the protests against the mining operations.

They also insist, such as in the case of Tintaya, in relating any social movement to political manipulations, characterizing them as party politics. However, to analyze a social conflict by linking it immediately and exclusively to political strategies doesn't work any more; especially in a time when the political parties are weak, and have lost their role of intermediaries and representatives of civil society.

The situation is much more complex. In the mining regions there is a perception that the territorial expansion of the mining companies is lacking in control and instruments which would permit an adequate management to safeguard the scarce resources of our country. Is this perception far from the reality? We don't think so. The mining concessions in the district of Carmen de la Fronters, where British mining company Monterrico Metals operates, occupy almost half of the territory, and further, in important zones in two river headwaters systems.

This presence, even in the exploration stage, exerts strong pressure upon the local inhabitants over the control of strategic resources. And the community's perception is that the current legal system provides neither the channels nor instruments for the defense of their rights.

An alternative way to read these conflicts is that the current legal framework, which has been effective in attracting investment, has collapsed in the face of these multiple conflicts. And the conflicts continue without being seen as an opportunity to construct new instruments, develop abilities which lie dormant, to define what type of mining we need and what is the role of mining in development. The path, thus, is to insist in the development of better means of regulation, mechanisms of dialogue and in the construction of relations of mutual respect, which reenforce strategies of cooperation and tolerance.

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