MAC: Mines and Communities

Jamaica bauxite battle continrues

Published by MAC on 2007-01-19

Latin American Update

19th January 2007

A large group of civil society representatives has called for a state of emergency to be declared around Doe Run's lead smelter in Peru. They claim that sulphur diocide and heavy metals emissions continue at unacceptably high levels, despite the US company's pledge to conform to basic safeguards.

Communities in Chile's Huasco Valley - site of the Pascua Lama project - have urged the government to file formal charges of environmental damage against Canada's Barrick Gold. They say that three glaciers have already been severely damaged by the company's exploration activities.

The world's fifth biggest mining company, UK-Swiss registered Xstrata, is leading the way in a spate of new proposals to dam pristine rivers in Chilean Patagonia.

Mercury contamination has been identified in Mexico, six years after its mining was officially halted. Some families continue to mine the deadly metal on a smallscale, while there are reportedly current proposals to re-open some of the abandoned pits.



Report of a session of the Commission of Environment and Ecology of the Peruvian Congress


1th2 January 2007

In the face of the failures by the company Doe Run Perú (DRP) to meet committments and the lack of serious oversight by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, representatives of the Movement for the Health of La Oroya (MOSAO) have demanded the declaration of a state of emergency in La Oroya as well as immediate actions to reduce the lead and other heavy metals contamination in the region.

This request was formulated on January 12 in the Peruvian Congress, to the Parliament members of the Commission of Andean, Amazonian and Afroperuvian Peoples and Environment and Ecology, in an extraordinary session with representatives of Doe Run Perú, and representatives of the project Mantaro Revive (Mantaro Lives Again) and the MOSAO. The minister of Energy and Mining, Juan Valdiva, was invited to the meeting, but he excused himself from participating because he was outside Lima inaugurating electrical works.

The director of the project "Mantaro Revive," Paula Meza, reported that the amount of sulphur dioxide in the river is still rising. "Currently they are discharging 380 thousand tons of sulphur dioxide and 846 tons of lead into the Mantaro, and this is why in December of 2005, the CONAM placed responsibility on DRP as a macro-emitter of these contaminants," she said.

At the same time she emphasized that rising levels of sulphur dioxide in the environment have caused a rise in acute respiratory infections in human population. She stated tool that persons older than 18 years in La Oroya are accumulating cancer-causing cadmium in their bodies because of contaminated gases generated in La Oroya.

On their part, representatives of MOSAO, Rosa Amaro and Carlos Callupe denounced the non-compliance with the environmental committments made by DRP in December 2006, and the lack of transparency in the process of impartial oversight. They asked for the declaration of Environmental Emergency so that the Peruvian state would be committed to enforcing compliance with current laws to safeguard the population of La Oroya.

Alberto Barandianán, MOSAO technical roundtable coordinator, deemed as false statements made by the Vice President of Environmental Affairs of Doe Run Perú, José Mogrovejo, who told the parliamentary commission that the company had complied with eight of the nine committments of their PAMA.

Barandiarán emphasised that the plant for precipitation of sulphuric acid is not operating, nor has the company complied with the cutting of fugative emissions or reduction of emissions of lead and arsenic, among other aspects. At the same time, he warned that Doe Run Perú's intention is to not take on their responsibilities for the remediation of environmental damages, instead passing these responsibilities on to the Peruvian state. "The people of Perú cannot pay for the legacy of environmental damages caused by this company," he said.

Noncompliance in Cerro de Pasco


National Board of Directors, Lima

11th January 2007

We, the National Confederation of Peruvian Communities Affected by Mining, CONACAMI-PERU, direct this message towards the Provincial Municipal Government of Pasco, the community organizations of Pasco and national and international public opinion, to express our position towards the Municipal Ordinance N° 057-2006-HMPP, a norm by which the municipal lawmakers have illegitimately allowed the expansion of the open-pit mine alongside the city of Cerro de Pasco, to the benefit of the company Volcan S.A.

For such:

We denounce the noncompliance on the part of the company Volcan SA with regards to their economic and social commitments, and for the impacts generated and which they continue to generate against the ecosystem and the public health of Pasco, leaving irrecoverable environmental and social legacies without reasonable compensation to the affected communities. We reiterate the necessity of a popular consultation to approve the carrying out or expansion of any mining project, democratically letting the affected populations to take the decision of development which they desire.

We reject the imposition of the Municipal Ordinance N° 057-2006-HMPP, without previous discussion or debate over the possible benefits or compensations. News of this decision was printed on December 19, in the final days of term of the municipal government in the province of Pasco by a regional newspaper which has been bought out entirely, to prevent the population of Cerro de Pasco knowing fully of its content.

We criticizs the so-called "Plan L" (the expansion of the open-pit), the disappearance of some 12 hectares of urban land, including almost all of the neighborhood of Rockovich, the historic plaza of Chaupimarca or "Center of the City," the Comissary PNP, a church, the Jr. Libertad, and the El Baratillo marketplace.

We demand that our new mayor, Mr. Tito Valle, publicly repeal this treason against the people of Pasco, and that he makes as the first priority that the mining company Volcan complies with its economic and social undertakings, and then negotiates the compensation and benefits that any future expansion of the mining pit should bring to the city.


Chilean Commission of State Defense Asked to Study Claims Against Barrick

Gold for Destruction of Glaciers in the Pascua Lama Project Zone

OLCA, Chile

19th January 2007

Community organizations and councilpersons of the community of Alto del Carmen in the Huasco Valley of Chile have formally requested that the CDE, or Commission of State Defense, file charges of Environmental Damage against Minera Nevada Ltda, subsidiary of Canadian mining company Barrick Gold Corporation, for being directly responsible for the destruction of glaciers Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza in the zone of the mining project Pascua Lama.

The actions that have destroyed these ecosystems took place during the exploratory stages of the mining project carried out in the zone and intensified beginning in the years previous to 2000, and have continued to this date.

According to local knowlege of the territory and records which are in the posession of the community, the existence of the environmental damage is confirmed and the mining company is directly implicated as responsible for the damages caused against Chilean national natural heritage. The actions committed by the company against glaciers Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza have caused the glaciers to diminish in size between 50% and 70%. Records filed with the CDE absolutely rule out the company's argument that the shrinkage of the glaciers is due to "global warming".

The request is supported by Alto del Carmen city Councilpersons Enrique Gaytan Arcos, Arturo Aliaga Bravo and Santiago Faura Cortes, the president of the Board of Neighbors of La Pampa Nilson Olivares Godoy, the president of the Board of Neighbors of Los Tambos Sandra Ramos Nieva, the president of the Board of Neighbors of Chollay, and the President of the Board of Health of Conay, all community organizations of the area.

The records were handed over to the chief lawyer of the Environmental Division of the CDE, Ximena Silva Abrantero by Councilperson Luis Faura, representing his collegues, and community organizations were represented by Lucio Cuenca, coordinator of the Latin American Observatory Environmental Conflict (OLCA) and Roxana Borquez, expert in Renewable Resources and technical advisor to the communities.

It should be noted that although the records presented have been presented in the past to the government, this information was not taken into account when environmental impact permission was granted to the company for the operations of the Pascua Lama project.

More information:

Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts
Ave. Providencia 365, Office 41,
Telephone: +56 (2) 274-5713 225-3218


Xstrata Submits Environmental Impact Study For Cuervo River Dam

By Benjamin Witte (

(January 5, 2007) Swiss mining company Xstrata, one of several large conglomerates eyeing Region XI as a potentially valuable source of hydroelectric power, nosed ahead of its competitors this week in what has been an ongoing race to dam the area's pristine rivers.

On Tuesday, Xstrata – working in collaboration with local affiliate Energía Austral – became the first of the competing firms to file an official Environmental Impact Study (EIS), a necessary prerequisite to any eventual construction.

Though the Swiss company would eventually like to build several power generators in the region, the EIS it submitted this week focuses specifically on plans to erect a dam along the Cuervo River. The proposed US$600 million project would be located approximately 21 kilometers northeast of Puerto Chacabuco and 26 kilometers north of Puerto Aysén.

There is, of course, no guarantee if or when the Region XI Environmental Commission (COREMA) will approve the project. Xstrata, nevertheless, is hoping to begin construction in 2008 and have the dam completed by 2012. Once in operation the Swiss mining company promises to produce some 600 MW of power from the Cuervo River generator.

The question remains, however, of what exactly Xstrata would do with all that power. Chile's electricity needs grow annually by approximately 6 percent. That electricity, though, is consumed primarily in the central part of the country, far north of the southern mountain rivers Xstrata and other interested companies are hoping to exploit. How then, does Xstrata plan to transport electricity from Region XI all the way to Santiago?

Spanish energy giant Endesa, working locally with Colbún (part of Chile's Grupo Matte conglomerate), also hopes to dam several of Region XI's rivers. Bigger and bolder still, Endesa-Colbún's plan calls for building four separate generators – along both the Baker and Pasqua rivers – that would together have a generating capacity of 2,400 MW.

Unlike Xstrata, Endesa-Colbún has yet to submit a single EIS for any part of its estimated US$4 billion dam projects. The Spanish-Chilean partner companies have, however, gone ahead and contracted the Canadian firm Transelec to conduct feasibility studies for the eventual construction of 2,000 kilometers worth of power lines. That relationship, in other words, is already in place, meaning Endesa-Colbún – assuming its mega-project is ultimately approved – is more or less guaranteed a means of transporting the electricity it produces.

Xstrata, on the other hand, has no such guarantees, something Energía Austral's general manager, Robert Biehl, openly admitted earlier this week. In comments to the press, Biehl also made no secret of his hope that Xstrata and Endesa-Colbún will eventually share Transelec power lines.

"We've had conversations with Transelec in the past and we're going to take them up again soon in order to reach a quick solution to the issue," said Biehl.

"There has to be just one line that would carry all the region's hydroelectric power," he went on to say. "There should be an agreement that the line doesn't just carry our energy, or energy produced by (Endesa-Colbún), but rather that it's open to other competitors as well."

Of course all of this would be a moot point if, as some people have speculated, Xstrata doesn't actually plan to build its Cuervo River dam, but is instead looking to eventually sell the project – possibly to Endesa-Colbún.

Biehl was adamant this week in denying the rumor. "We have a real interest in this project. It's not for sale," he said.

That opinion is not shared, however, by Cristián Ramírez, a senior analyst with LarrainVial. "I see the (EIS) announcement more as an intention to sell rather than a real plan to build the generator. It's easier to sit down and negotiate something with an approved EIS than it is to negotiate just the idea of a project," he told the daily La Tercera. "It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Endesa-Colbún will eventually acquire the project and partner with Xstrata."

All of this wheeling and dealing is of little concern to environmentalists, who are focusing instead on simply stopping Region XI dam construction all together. Together, they say, the proposed dams pose a major threat to the region, inarguably one of the world's most pristine wilderness areas.

The issue recently received substantial international attention from the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which last month designated Chilean Patagonia as a so-called "BioGem."

"Endesa-Spain, a European energy company, is pushing to build hydro-electric dams on at least half a dozen rivers in Patagonia. Its scheme would lay waste to this thriving region, flooding thousands of acres of irreplaceable wildlife habitat," said NRDC.

The plan, the environmental group's Web site goes on to explain, also calls for the clear-cutting a 1,200 km swath of forest, space that would then be used to build the world's largest transmission line. Five national parks would be affected by the massive clear-cutting, which would be done by a Canadian company called Brookfield Consortium.


Mercury Contamination Detected in Sierra Gorda, Querétaro, Mexico

Querétaro, Mexico, Monday January 8, 2007 (Notimemx)

Mexican and International specialists have determined that there is indeed mercury contamination in the Sierra Gorda range of the Querétaro state in Mexico, which could be a leading cause of chronic illnesses in the region. The works were carried out by specialists of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the National Politechnical Institute (IPN), the National Geological Institute of Hungary and the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH)

Finishing the first part of the investigation over the environmental impact of mercury by mining activities in the mountains, the results showed the existance of mercury contamination, as well as a relation between the level of pollution and illnesses in the area. This project was initiated in early 2006 in the archeological zones of Toluquilla and Ranas, where bone remains of archeologic origen are being analyzed.

The mountain town of San Joaquín is where the largest prevelance of some of these illnesses have been noted, which indicates that the population could be exposed. The investigators have initiated the second phase of the project, which consists of analyses of waters and living persons, to determine the presence of mercury and its consequences.

Mercury mining has been a constant activity in the Sierra Gorda for over two thousand years, and has had an accumulative effect in the environment. Although a large part of the mines were abandoned in the 1970's, the last mine located in Maconi closed on December 31, 2000. At least six families in the mountains continue to mine mercury in an artesanal manner, and there are projects in existence intending to reopen some of the mines.


En Sesión de Comisión de Ambiente y Ecología del Congreso

PRENSA OROYA – 12 de Enero de 2007

Ante el incumplimiento de los compromisos adquiridos por la empresa Doe Run Perú (DRP) y la falta de una fiscalización seria por el Ministerio de Energía y Minas, representantes del Movimiento por la Salud de la Oroya (MOSAO) demandaron la declaratoria de emergencia de la Oroya y acciones inmediatas para reducir la contaminación por plomo y otros metales pesados en la zona.

Este pedido fue formulado el día de hoy en el Congreso de la República, a los parlamentarios miembros de la Comisión de Pueblos Andinos, Amazónicos y Afroperuanos, Ambiente y Ecología, en sesión extraordinaria con los empresarios de Doe Run Perú (DRP), representantes del proyecto "Mantaro Revive" y el MOSAO. En la misma estuvo invitado el Ministro de Energía y Minas, Juan Valdivia, quien, mediante oficio, se excusó de no participar porque estaba fuera de Lima inaugurando obras eléctricas.

La Directora del Proyecto "Mantaro Revive", Paula Meza, informó que la cantidad de dióxido de azufre crece cada vez más en el río. "Anualmente se descargan 380 mil toneladas de dióxido de azufre y 846 toneladas de plomo al Mantaro, por lo que en su oportunidad el CONAM responsabilizó en diciembre de 2005 a DRP como macroemisor de estos contaminantes", aseveró.

Igualmente recalcó que el progresivo índice de dióxido de azufre en el ambiente ocasiona el aumento de infecciones agudas respiratorias en la población. Además comentó que las personas mayores de 18 años de La Oroya están acumulando cadmio en su cuerpo por los gases contaminantes que se generan en La Oroya, metal considerado como cancerígeno.

A su turno, los representantes del MOSAO, Rosa Amaro y Carlos Callupe denunciaron el incumplimiento de los compromisos ambientales de DRP a diciembre de 2006 y su falta de transparencia a un proceso de fiscalización imparcial. Por tanto, solicitaron la declaratoria de Emergencia Ambiental para que el Estado Peruano se comprometa a cumplir con las leyes vigentes en salvaguarda de la población oroína.

Por su parte, el coordinador de la Mesa Técnica del MOSAO, Alberto Barandiarán, calificó como falsas las afirmaciones hechas por el Vicepresidente de Asuntos Ambientales de DRP, José Mogrovejo, quien informó a la comisión parlamentaria que la empresa había cumplido con ocho de los nueve compromisos de su PAMA.

Barandiarán recalcó que la planta de repotenciación de ácido sulfúrico aún no está operativa, ni se ha cumplido con el encerramiento de las emisiones fugitivas, ni con la reducción de las emisiones de plomo y arsénico, entre otros aspectos. A la vez, advirtió sobre la intención de DRP para no reconocer su responsabilidad en la remediación de pasivos ambientales y adjudicarla al Estado Peruano. "Los peruanos y peruanas no podemos pagar los pasivos ambientales que ocasiona esta empresa", subrayó.

Dirigentes sociales denuncian que Doe Run manipula fiscalización

Lunes, 15 de Enero 2007

Dirigentes de La Oroya Antigua, la zona más afectada por la contaminación de los gases tóxicos que emanan de la fundición que tiene a su cargo Doe Run, denunciaron desde uno de los salones del Congreso, que la compañía estadounidense manipula la fiscalización a la que está sometida por estos días.

Carlos Callupe, presidente de la Asamblea Popular de la provincia Yauli-La Oroya, y Miguel Curi, vicepresidente del Frente de Defensa de La Oroya Antigua, señalaron que Doe Run ha desconocido sus papeles de veedores, a pesar de que representan a la sociedad civil, para fiscalizar y monitorear los avances de cumplimiento del Programa de Adecuación y Manejo Ambiental (PAMA) al que se comprometió la empresa con el Estado peruano.

Los dirigentes afirman que han sido reemplazados, debido "a maniobras de Doe Run" , por dos personas vinculadas a la empresa: Guillermina Córdova, esposa de un trabajador de Doe Run y presidenta de una organización promovida por la misma compañía, la Asociación del Comité de Promoción Vecinal; y Raúl Vilcapoma, trabajador de la fundición y secretario general del sindicato de empleados de Doe Run.

"Estas irresponsabilidades están amañadas por el Ministerio de Energía y Minas", dijo Miguel Curi. Hoy el titular del MEM, Juan Valdivia, y voceros de Doe Run deberán presentarse ante la Comisión de Medio Ambiente del Congreso.

Incumpimiento en Cerro de Pasco


Lima 11 de enero de 2007

La Confederación Nacional de Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería CONACAMI-PERÚ, nos dirigimos al Gobierno Municipal Provincial de Pasco, las organizaciones de base de Pasco y la opinión pública nacional e internacional para expresar nuestra posición frente a la Ordenanza Municipal N° 057-2006-HMPP, norma con la cual la gestión municipal aprista ilegítimamente impuso la ampliación del tajo abierto de la ciudad de Cerro de Pasco, a beneficio de la empresa Volcan SAA.

Por tal motivo:

Denunciamos el incumplimiento por parte de la empresa Volcan SAA de sus compromisos económicos y sociales, y los impactos generados y que sigue generando en el ecosistema y la salud de Pasco, dejando pasivos ambientales y sociales irrecuperables sin compensación razonable a las poblaciones afectadas.

Reiteramos la necesidad de una consulta popular para la aprobación de cualquier proyecto minero o su ampliación, democráticamente dejando a las poblaciones afectadas la decisión sobre el modelo de desarrollo que desean.

Rechazamos la imposición de la Ordenanza Municipal N° 057-2006-HMPP, sin discusión previa ni debate sobre los posibles beneficios y compensaciones, y su publicación en un diario regional, en los últimos días de la gestión municipal aprista en la provincia de Pasco, el día 19 de diciembre del 2006, tiraje que además ha sido comprado en su totalidad por intereses ocultos, para impedir que la población de Cerro de Pasco se entere de su contenido.

Criticamos, en el denominado "Plan L" (nombre de la ampliación del tajo abierto), la desaparición de aproximadamente 12 hectáreas de suelo urbano, incluidos casi todo el barrio de Rockovich, el íntegro de la plaza histórica de Chaupimarca o "Centro de la ciudad", la Comisaría PNP, La Iglesia matriz, el Jr. Libertad, y el Mercado El Baratillo.

Demandamos que el nuevo alcalde, el Sr. Tito Valle, derogue públicamente esa traición al pueblo pasqueño, y que deje instituido que primeramente la empresa minera Volcan cumpla con sus compromisos económicos y sociales, y recién entonces, convenir las compensaciones y beneficios que a favor de la ciudad significaría la aún eventual ampliación del tajo abierto.


Por destrucción de glaciares en zona de Proyecto Pascua Lama, solicitan a

Consejo de Defensa del Estado (CDE) estudiar demanda contra Barrick Gold

Chile, 19 de enero de 2007 -

Organizaciones comunitarias y Concejales de la Comuna de Alto del Carmen en el Valle del Huasco, solicitaron formalmente al Consejo de Defensa del Estado CDE interponga Acción por Daño Ambiental en contra de Minera Nevada Ltda.. filial de la Canadiense Barrick Gold Corp, por ser responsable directa de destrucción de glaciares Toro 1, Toro 2 y Esperanza, en la zona del proyecto Pascua Lama.

Las acciones que han destruido estos ecosistemas, corresponden a la etapa de exploración que realiza la empresa en la zona y que se intensificaron los años previos al 2000 y se han mantenido hasta la fecha.

De acuerdo al conocimiento del territorio y a los antecedentes que obran en manos de la comunidad, se confirma la existencia del daño e identifican directamente a la empresa minera mencionada como autora de este daño al patrimonio natural del país. La acción directa de la empresa sobre los glaciares Toro 1, Toro 2 y Esperanza, han significado una disminución de entre un 50 y 70 % de estos.

Los antecedentes entregados al CDE descartan absolutamente el argumento de la empresa respecto a que el retroceso de los glaciares se debería al "calentamiento global".

La solicitud cuenta con el apoyo de los señores Enrique Gaytán Arcos, Arturo Aliaga Bravo y Santiago Faura Cortés los tres Concejales de la Municipalidad de Alto del Carmen, y de José Mancilla Alcayaga, Presidente Junta de Vecinos de La Pampa, Nilson Olivares Godoy, Presidente Junta de Vecinos de Los Tambos, Sandra Ramos Nieva , Presidenta Junta de Vecinos de Chollay, Sandra Ramos Nieva, Presidenta Consejo de Salud de Conay, organizaciones comunitarias de dicha comuna.

Los antecedentes fueron entregados a la Abogado Jefe de la Unidad de Medio Ambiente de CDE, Ximena Silva Abrantero, por el Concejal Luis Faura en representación de sus colegas y de las organizaciones, por Lucio Cuenca Coordinador del Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA y Roxana Bórquez, Licenciada en Recursos Renovables, asesora técnica de la comunidad.

Cabe mencionar que todos los antecedentes presentados son de conocimiento
del gobierno, a pesar de lo categórico de la información, esto fue
desestimado a la hora de entregar el permiso ambiental para la explotación
del proyecto Pascua Lama.
Comunicaciones OLCA
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales
Av. Providencia Nº 365 Of. 41, Providencia, Santiago
Fonos: 56-2 2745713 - 2253218


Detectan contaminación de mercurio en Sierra Gorda, Querétaro

Lunes 8 de enero de 2007

Querétaro, 8 Ene (Notimex).- Especialistas nacionales y extranjeros determinaron que sí existe contaminación de mercurio en la Sierra Gorda del estado, que podría ser la principal causa de enfermedades crónicas en la región.

Los trabajos están a cargo de especialistas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), el Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), el Instituto Geológico Nacional de Hungría y el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH).

Al concluir la primera parte de la investigación sobre el impacto ambiental del mercurio por la actividad minera en la sierra, los resultados arrojaron la existencia de contaminación, así como una relación entre la misma y enfermedades de la zona.

"Sí existe contaminación en el ambiente, ahora lo que estamos investigando es si ese material, ese metal pesado, se transmitió y lo ingirió la población humana, y sobre eso vincular cómo van las patologías", informó Alberto Herrera Muñoz, arqueólogo del INAH.

Este proyecto inició a principios de 2006 en las zonas arqueológicas de Toluquilla y Ranas, donde se analizaron restos óseos de origen arqueológico que presentaron ciertas características que demostraron presencia de mercurio.

Este material afecta el sistema nervioso central de los seres humanos y puede generar algunas deficiencias motrices, así como parálisis y apoplejías, consecuencia de su acumulación en el cuerpo. Además, se le asocia con anemias, deficiencias renales, del hígado y del páncreas, y a la larga adelgaza las paredes óseas y ocasiona artritis.

Herrera Muñoz agregó que el municipio serrano de San Joaquín es el que presenta mayor prevalencia de algunas de estas enfermedades, lo que indica que su población podría estar expuesta a la presencia del mercurio. Los investigadores iniciaron la segunda etapa del proyecto, que consiste en el análisis del agua y de personas vivas, para determinar la presencia del mercurio y sus consecuencias. "Ver algunos de sus problemas de salud, si existe alguna relación directa con este metal o es todo un juego de metales", indicó.

El investigador resaltó que la explotación del mercurio fue una actividad constante en la sierra gorda desde hace dos mil años, y tuvo un efecto acumulativo en el medio ambiente. Aunque la mayor parte de las minas se abandonaron en los años 70, la última mina ubicada en Maconí cerró el 31 de diciembre del 2000. Al menos seis familias serranas continúan con la explotación del mercurio de forma artesanal y existen proyectos que pretenden reabrir algunas minas.


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