Minas Conga gold and copper mining project stalled due to protests by local indigenous peoples

Protests risk disruption to mining in Peru

Peru’s mining sector is in panic mode today after the country’s left-wing President failed to quell the fears of local groups in Cajamarca over the local Minas Conga gold and copper mining project.

It had initially been hoped that a series of concessions would appease critics to the US$4.8 billion project. The President himself appeared on live TV on 20th April stating that if Yanacocha agreed to certain conditions, including ensuring local water supply and finding alternatives to draining two nearby lakes, and committed to provide 10,000 new jobs for the region, then the project could go ahead.

However, critics rejected the proposals and have stated that it is their intention to carry out a campaign of peaceful protest until the project in cancelled. They have also warned that if their demands are not met by 31st May then they will launch strikes and road blocks in areas surrounding the mine to pile further pressure on the government.

This all comes as terrible news to left-leaning President Humala who is meant to be championing the interests of indigenous peoples across the country. Humala will remember the events of 2009 where 31 people died whilst taking part in other mining projects, and he will be keen not to risk aggravating the situation in Cajamarca and thus tarnishing his government.

In this respect the President is vulnerable, and so too are companies operating in the country’s mining sector. Due to the success of the protestors in Cajamarca local communities now feel empowered, and may seek to disrupt other mining project throughout the country in the hope of achieving better deals for their local communities.