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Peru: Report on Conga Mining Project Released

Update 21 April, 2012 : President Ollanta Humala announced [es] to the nation that the Conga project will continue, but with better environmental conditions.

The technical report commissioned by the Peruvian government to survey the Environmental Impact Study of the Conga mining project in Cajamarca was finally delivered [es]. However, lots of things related to this controversial project have happened since, ranging from the unsuccessful attempts at discussion between those against the project and the government, to the ignored “March for Water.” (More on this can be found on Scribd on the Report on the Great National March for the Right to Water in Peru by the International Mission of Observers.)

After the march, Wilfredo Saavedra, President of the Defence Front of Cajamarca, pointed out [es] that the government had until the third week of March to declare the Conga project to be non-viable. If the government did not do this he stated they would declare a national strike.

It was discovered that apart from the survey commissioned by the central government, the regional government of Cajamarca had also negotiated an international survey at the same time [es]. Until that moment this report had included some observations [es] into the environmental impact [es] of the mining project.

Message against Conga during the Water March, February 2012. Image from Flickr user Ricardove04 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In the middle of March, Wilfredo Saavedra was detained [es] in Tacna and moved to Cajamarca where he was freed [es] after 10 hours of detention and not before taking his protest to the Public Ministry.

The National Assembly for the Peruvian people started [es] in Cajamarca towards the end of the month amidst rumours [es] of new strike action. The Assembly agreed [es] on a strike for April 11. It was reported [es] that this meeting had accentuated the division between the different movements that form the Environmental Defence Front of Cajamarca, allegedly because of differing political interests [es].

Since April 7, the central government has sent [es] a strong military contingent to Cajamarca to prevent any disorderly behaviour that would arise out of the strike. The strike eventually was problem-free [es], although there were reports [es] of the occupation of the University of Cajamarca and reports [es] of road blocking in Jaén. It was also reported that a “flag-washing” [es] took place in the Plaza de Armas in Cajamarca to reject the Conga project.

More recently, the Constitutional Court upheld [es] the cries of unconstitutionality by the Prosecutor's Office against the bylaw implemented by the regional government of Cajamarca. This bylaw declared the Conga project to be non-viable. The Court also established that it is the National Authority for Water that should be in charge of determining which coal-mining areas should be declared to be intangible and not regional governments.

The Conga project is attracting a large amount of opinion in the media by different people. The opinions range from announcements [es] of a great clash between the government and the anti-mining protestors, analysis [es] of the wearing away of the movement, analysis [es] of the communication errors made by the government, to mere damaging remarks [es] made by those that oppose the Conga project. There is some evidence that suggests [es] that the report indicates that the loss of the lagoons would not have any significant impact on water flow in the region. However, it is noted [es] that the report did recommend not using two of the four lagoons that the project had previously intended to use.

In blogs the analysis and reports are just as varied. For example, the blog Celendín freely reproduced [es] a statement from the NGO Oxfam:

5. Asimismo, Oxfam invoca a las autoridades regionales y locales de Cajamarca a retomar el diálogo, escuchando, resolviendo las dudas de la población y, buscando el bienestar de quienes los eligieron. Esto no representa limitar sus derechos a decidir sobre sus circunscripciones y recursos.

6. Oxfam invoca al Gobierno peruano a formular políticas de largo plazo que permitan que la inversión pública y privada se realice en una forma armoniosa con la biodiversidad y las dinámicas sociales y culturas de las poblaciones indígenas y campesinas. En esa línea, impulsar políticas económicas alternativas, que reduzcan la fuerte dependencia del país con el modelo extractivista vigente, constituye una prioridad.

5. Similarly, Oxfam calls on the regional and local authorities of Cajamarca to resume dialogue, to listen and resolve the doubts of the population and to ensure they are looking for the well-being of those who elected them. This is not to limit their rights to decide on their constituencies and resources.

6. Oxfam calls for the Peruvian government to formulate long term policies that allow public and private investment to be made in a harmonious manner, with the biodiversity and social dynamics and cultures of the indigenous people and country people at its heart. In the same vein, they must make it their priority to boost alternative economic policies that would reduce Peru's heavy reliance on existing extractive industry.

From Cajamarca the blog Radio Alfil informed [es]:

Entre las 4 y 8 p.m. del día martes 17 de abril, unas 3 000 personas se concentraron en la Plaza de Armas de Cajamarca para iniciar un recorrido por las principales calles de la ciudad en respuesta a la presentación del peritaje de la parte hidrológica del EIA del proyecto minero Conga. Hubo movilización y luego vigilia.

On Tuesday April 17 between 4 and 8pm, some 3000 people gathered in the Plaza de Armas in Cajamarca to start a march through the city’s main streets in response to the presentation of the experts’ report of the hydrological part of the EIA of the Conga mining project. First there was a protest then a vigil.
Vigilia en Cajamarca

Vigil in Cajamarca

On the other hand, there have been complaints [es] regarding the difficulty in accessing the experts’ technical report via the Internet. The blog Crónicas from the city of Cajamarca in Perú comments [es] on this:

Luego de descargar [en informe] me topé con lo que ya esperaba: el documento tiene el texto como imagen, de tal manera que no se puede hacer búsquedas de palabras. Pero hubo una sorpresa adicional: el documento está protegido contra impresión… bajo Windows, porque bajo Linux es posible imprimir.

After downloading the report I was confronted with what I had expected: the document’s text is formatted as an image, in a way in which one cannot search through the document for words. But, there was an additional surprise: the document was protected against any printing…under Windows, because you can print when you use Linux.

The blog of Tierra y Libertad (Land and Freedom), the political movement of Marco Arana – one of the leaders of the anti-mining movement- issued [es] their statement to a local radio station about the attitude of the government:

“La decisión política ha sido: ‘mire, el peritaje es nuestro, lo vamos a dar a conoce en los términos q nosotros queremos, y los demás tienen que acatar, y a la prensa le vamos a transmitir la imagen de que el debate técnico ya está resuelto, aquí está claro, lo que falta es solamente la decisión política’”

“The political decision so far has been of: ‘look, the experts’ report is ours, we are going to release it under our terms, and the others will just have to live with it, and we are going to show the press that the technical debate is over with – it’s clear, what is missing is only the political decision’”

The blog titled Environmental Defence Front of Cajamarca reproduced [es] part of the opinions of Robert Morán, one of the experts in charge of the alternative report commissioned by the regional government of Cajamarca:

Es totalmente irreal discutir los impactos de Conga sobre el agua sino se habla también de los impactos acumulativos que tendrán otros proyectos mineros en las mismas cabeceras de cuenca que Conga. Como mínimo, estos incluyen a la mina Yanacocha y sus futuras ampliaciones de Amaro y La Carpa; Galeno de Lumina Copper(China), y Michiquillay de Anglo American (Sudáfrica y Reino Unido)

It is completely unreal to discuss the impacts of the Conga project on the water without also talking about the accumulative impacts that other mining projects will have on the same lagoons. As a minimum, these include the Yanacocha mine and its future expansions in Amaro and La Carpa; Galeno of Lumina Copper (China), and Michiquillay of Anglo American (South Africa and the United Kingdom).

Given that apparently the two sides seem to be irreconcilable, it has been suggested [es] that a technical debate be carried out concerning the topic. In his blog Lacritaprecisa, Lucho Aguirre comments [es] with humour:

Debate técnico: Intercambio de puntos de vista entre dos partes antagónicas prescindiendo de palabras que sugieran algún tipo de emotividad o compasión. Es más, se recomienda prescindir por completo de palabras y usar, en cambio, tablas, gráficos de barras o pictogramas. En el debate técnico está prohibido el uso de megáfonos o sombreros que puedan contaminar la información.

Technical debate: Exchange of viewpoints between two antagonistic sides disregarding words that suggest any hint of emotion or compassion. What is more, one recommends disregarding words completely and in exchange using tables, bar graphs or pictograms. In the technical debate the use of megaphones or hats that can contaminate the information are forbidden

Some other bloggers claim [es] that the report clears any doubts and that the anti-miners are stubborn characters, such as Diego Yépez from the blog Cínico ¿yo?:

Esto es un levantamiento cultural, es el indio contra el blanco, el anti sistema contra el sistema. Así de simple. No hay confrontamiento racional de propuestas sino una pelea ideológica entre el chiquito y el grande, y lo que la gente que se opone al proyecto no entiende es que esa batalla hace tiempo ya la perdieron. […] Santos, Saavedra y su gente están a punto de cruzar la raya entre diferir con el gobierno y la anarquía, y ahí, viendo que Humala es cachaco de corazón, ayayay, va a correr sangre. Es jodido, vamos a joder nuestra imagen en el exterior, pero es necesario.

This is a cultural awakening, it is the native against the white-man, the anti-system against the system. It is that simple. There is no rational confrontation of proposals, rather an ideological fight between David and Goliath, and what the people who oppose the project do not understand is that they lost this battle a long time ago. […] Santos, Saavedra and their people are about to cross the line between not agreeing with the government and anarchy, and from there, seeing that Humala is from the military in his heart, blood will be shed. It’s messed up, we are going to mess up what people think of us from abroad, but it is necessary

What is evident is that no matter whether there is a report or not, the problem is far from being resolved. Such as Hans Rothgiesser mentioned in an article [es] in Semana Económica, “none of this would have been necessary had we had a credible mining ministry that when it approves an [Environmental Impact Study] it is because the [Environmental Impact Study] is being approved”. You can read a full version of the specialist technical report commissioned by the government on Scribd [es].

Originally published in the personal blog [es] of Juan Arellano.


  • […] Peru: Report on Conga Mining Project Released, Juan Arellano, (Español aquí): After months of conflict, the technical report commissioned by the Peruvian government to survey the Environmental Impact Study of the Conga mining project in Cajamarca was finally delivered. The media and bloggers have been sharing their opinion for and against this controversial project, as well as the mistakes made by the government and those that oppose the mining project. – Después de meses de conflicto, finalmente se entregó el Informe Técnico contratado por el gobierno para hacer el peritaje al Estudio del Impacto Ambiental del proyecto minero Conga, en Cajamarca. Los medios y los bloggers han estado opinando a favor y en contra de este controvertido proyecto así como de los errores del gobierno y los anti mineros. […]

  • […] learning about the government’s report for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Conja mining project in Cajamarca [es] and the […]

  • […] learning about the government’s report for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Conja mining project in Cajamarca [es] and the […]

  • […] tendencies inspired by the Right, and emphasized by the government's position in cases like Conga and now […]

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