Jul 3rd, 2012
Just weeks after pushing back the projected start date for the planned massive gold and copper Minas Conga mine in Peru’s Cajamarca Region, mining company Minera Yanacocha announced plans to begin preparations for mine construction.
Newmont Mining Corp. owns a 51.35% stake in Minera Yanacocha.
Following widespread protests by indigenous farmers concerned that the mine would contaminate their water supplies, an independent project review recommended that the company build several water reservoirs before beginning the project. The company said it will spend the next two years building four such reservoirs.
But mine opponents have vowed to prevent reservoir construction.
Meanwhile, Gregorio Santos, the regional president of Cajamarca and one of the main opponents of Minas Conga, was reported as saying by newspaper El Comercio that he will continue to oppose the project.
“The social movement will not allow the construction of the reservoirs,” said Cajamarca President Gregorio Santos (roughly equivalent to a governor in the U.S.).
Santos warned that if the mining company begins construction, it “could provoke a confrontation.”
Opposition by locals concerned over the mine’s environmental impacts (particularly local water supplies) forced the project to be placed on hold in November 2011 with a variety of tactics including road blockades and destruction of company equipment. President Ollanta Humala responded by declaring martial law in the region, and several of his ministers resigned in disgrace over the government’s handling of the unrest.