MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Tambogrande update & articles (Where's the Minister of Mines)

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01


Where’s the Minister of Energy and Mines?

Tambogrande Update – Nov. 21, 2003

From: CooperAccion, Peru

In the last update we reported that the Environment and Ecology Sub-commission of the Peruvian Congress had scheduled a session on Tambogrande with Francisco Ojeda, Mayor of Tambogrande and Hans Flury, Minister of Energy and Mines. The session was scheduled for this Wednesday but was canceled, for reasons that remain unclear. The session has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, the 26th of November.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Energy and Mines has been conspicuously quiet. The Ministry’s position regarding the aborted public consultation process for Manhattan’s EIA is unclear.

The Supposed "Tambogrande Effect"

On Tuesday November 18, the public hearing that was scheduled for the Alto Chicama mineral project (Barrick Gold – in the Department of La Libertad) was canceled. Approximately 300 protesters congregated at the hearing site. The MEM blamed the failure on the "Tambogrande Effect." In other words, the Tambogrande case has established a precedent that other communities are now following. It seems that the Ministry has not considered the possibility that the public participation process is flawed and that the public lacks confidence in the process.

Peruvian Academics Concur that EIA is Extremely Weak

This week the Episcopal Commission for Social Action (CEAS) and Diaconia for Justice and Peace (Archbishops of Piura and Tumbes) released a technical review of Manhattan’s EIA that was undertaken by the Centre for Research on Applied Geography of the Catholic University. The review is highly critical of the EIA. Several of the report’s general conclusions follow below:

CooperAccion
Jr. Berlin 1353
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
tel: 444-0316
fax: 445-0908
email: mail@cooperaccion.org.pe


Minister Flury Speaks

Tambogrande Update – December 3, 2003

From: CooperAccion, Peru

On Wednesday, November 26, the Environment and Ecology Sub-commission of the Peruvian Congress undertook a second session on Tambogrande. Hans Flury, Minister of Energy and Mines, participated in the session and announced that:
the Ministry of Energy and Mines plans to schedule another public hearing regarding Manhattan’s EIA. The Minister provided no details about where or when the hearing will be carried out.

The December 1 deadline under Manhattan’s option agreement for the project stands. By this date Manhattan was obliged to demonstrate that either it, or a partner, possesses net assets of at least US$100 million and operates a complex with a treatment capacity of at least 10,000 tonne/day.

Manhattan requested an extension of the December 1 deadline, claiming that due to force majeure, it was unable to fulfill its obligations under the option agreement.
Manhattan’s request was denied by Centromin (state-owned mining company and Manhattan’s potential partner in the development of the project). The Minister also rejects the force majeure argument.

Note that in a November 28 press release, Manhattan denies that it requested an extension of the December 1 deadline.

Has Manhattan Got the Goods?

On Monday, December 1, Manhattan submitted a document to ProInversión, the government agency that promotes investment in Peru, regarding the qualifying obligations under its option agreement ($100 million/10,000 tonnes). ProInversión is not providing any information to the public regarding the contents of the document. Centromin is evaluating the document to assess whether Manhattan satisfies the qualifying conditions and will reportedly release a decision regarding the matter next Friday, December 12.

If Manhattan fails to satisfy the conditions, it cannot exercise its ownership option in the project. A recent Reuters article points out that, "in its third-quarter financial statement, Manhattan counted assets of $65.2 million and liabilities of $1.4 million, falling short of the net asset value of $100 million required by the government."

Take Action! Peruvian Mangoes Need Your Help!

Check out the Mineral Policy Center’s Tambogrande action alert at http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/tambogrande. So far almost 900 people have written to President Toledo, the MEM and Manhattan via this Internet portal, requesting that the Peruvian government respect the results of the 2002 community referendum carried out by the Municipality of Tambogrande.

CooperAccion
Jr. Berlin 1353
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
tel: 444-0316
fax: 445-0908
email: mail@cooperaccion.org.pe


Gold mine fails to glitter in Peru

December 3 2003

By Hannah Hennessy, BBC News

There are few paved roads in Tambogrande. Most people in this Peruvian town do not have drinkable running water or electricity either. Many live on less than $2 a day. Those who have money, earn their living from the land.

This lush fertile region in northern Peru produces 40% of the country's mangoes and limes.

But all this could be about to change.

Not wanted

A Canadian company wants to invest hundreds of millions of dollars building a gold mine here.

Mining is one of Peru's biggest industries. It accounts for around half of this Latin American country's annual $8bn in exports.

But it is also a political hot potato. Foreign investors are not always welcome.

In the past, mining has caused irreversible damage to some local communities.


Americo Villafuerte, the head of Manhattan Minerals in Peru, says it will give people in Tambogrande a better life.

"Our company has a concrete proposal for development in Tambogrande. It's a proposal with three concrete social and economic aspects that will resolve many of the problems affecting thousands of children and adults in Tambogrande."

But time is running out.

While it waits for the government's decision on its environmental impact study, Manhattan Minerals says it will not proceed without popular consent.

And that will be a problem, because the people of Tambogrande do not seem to want the mine.

More than 90% of voters rejected the mine in an informal referendum in 2002.

Staying put

Francisco Ojeda, the mayor of Tambogrande, says they had good reason for this.

"Mines aren't an alternative to solving the problems of illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty in communities, because here in Peru we have had too many examples of that kind of thing. Mining has only left a legacy of poverty in Peru."

Manhattan Minerals wants to dig beneath dusty streets that house hundreds of people.

It says it will build modern homes for people who lose their old ones and supply the town with amenities now only available to 15% of the population.

The people here know drinkable running water, paved streets and electricity would make their lives easier, but they do not want to leave their homes.

Altemira Hidalgo has spent all her life living on one of the streets that Manhattan wants to pull up, and says the residents do not want to move.

"We were born here. We grew up here. Our children and our homes were formed here...our ancestors were also here. We want these men to go. We don't want mining. We want agriculture."

'Everything I need'

The majority of people in Tambogrande may be poor, but they are proud. They are not prepared to exchange their limes and mangoes for the promise of gold.

Jose Berru exports fruit worldwide. By local standards he is rich. He, too, is against the mine.

"Here on my farm we produce mangoes, avocados, we have sheep. I have everything I need and if the mine comes it will destroy everything," says the 66-year-old grandfather as he tenderly prunes his mango trees with his gnarled, walnut-coloured hands.

He and Altemira were just two of many people who said they would not give up their fight against the mine.

I walked these hot and dusty streets for hours, and talked to dozens of people.

Not one wanted the mine.

As time runs out on the option to develop the mine, this increasingly bitter battle between developers and environmentalists is not helping Manhattan Minerals' chances of success.

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