MAC: Mines and Communities

Peru farmer killed in protest against U.S. backed mine

Published by MAC on 2004-11-17

Peru farmer killed in protest against U.S. backed mine

Associated Press November 17, 2004

LIMA, Peru - One protester was killed when some 200 farmers attacked a gold and silver prospecting camp partly owned by U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp. in Peru's northern Andes, authorities said Wednesday.

The demonstrators attacked and severely damaged the exploration camp, known as La Zanja, Tuesday about 630 kilometers (391 miles) northwest of Lima, police said.

A 53-year-old farmer was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest fired by a local resident after the violent protest spilled onto his property next to the mining operation, Domingo Contreras, a prosecutor investigating the case, told The Associated Press.

Orlando Hernandez, governor of the Santa Cruz province, where the violence took place, had earlier told The AP that the farmer was shot by one of the mine workers.

Contreras said 12 people were arrested and three other people were injured slightly. Police said reinforcements were being sent into the area.

The La Zanja project is 53 percent owned by Peruvian mining company Buenaventura and 47 percent by Newmont, the world's largest gold producer.

Buenaventura's chief financial officer, Carlos Galvez, said the protesters tried to convince the 150 local laborers at the exploratory site to demonstrate against the project.

"When they did not obtain that support, they held a violent demonstration," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Earlier this month, Newmont and Buenaventura announced they were dropping exploration rights to another joint venture on the Cerro Quilish mountain following massive protests by locals who feared it would deplete and pollute water supplies.

Since 1993, Newmont and Buenaventura have operated Yanacocha, an open pit mine on a plateau about 3,940 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level, 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the small Spanish colonial city of Cajamarca. It is Latin America's biggest gold producer.

The company uses cyanide and massive amounts of water to extract gold from ore piled on impermeable barriers designed to prevent toxins from seeping into the ground.

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