Europe, Globe

International Campaign for ‘mining free zones’

From Belgium for Perú

On 16 September 2007 thousands of peasants in the districts of Ayabaca, Pacaipampa and Carmen de la Frontera in the northwest of Perú celebrated a local consultation and rejected the Río Blanco mining project that is currently underway by the British company Monterrico Metals in the north of the country.

Mountains in northeastern Perú

Three years later, the mining project is still ongoing. Having completed the exploration phase, the company Monterrico Metals – whose majority shareholder is the Chinese company Zijin – intends to launch the operational phase next year.

This plan threatens the northern provinces of Jaén, San Ignacio, Ayabaca, Huancabamba, situated in an ecosystem of high environmental value and biodiversity. In doing so, they have threatened the region of Piura, located in the northwestern part of Peru and the Amazon basin to the east, as the area where they want to carry out the Rio Blanco mining project is part of the capital of Amazonas .

Organised

Farmers and villagers in these four provinces, organized by the Front for the Sustainable Development of the Northern Border of Perú (FDSFNP), were not consulted by the Peruvian state before the mining concession went ahead, which covers 7600 hectares, despite the project needing the consent of two thirds of the population before preceeding, as stated by law.

United peasants in protest

Those affected advocate and work for a sustainable exploitation of resources away from mining projects that may destroy the ecosystem they live in and their way of life. Coordinated environmental cooperatives carry out agricultural and livestock activities, such as the cultivation of organic coffee being exported to international markets, and promote sustainable economic development which respects the environment.

The campaign

For this reason, the movement in defense of sustainable development in Latin America, Catapa (Academic Technical Advisory Committee on Environmental Problems) starts the International Campaign ‘”Mining in paradise? Mining free zones” in the Belgian city of Ghent this Thursday, 16th of September.

Mining camp of Río Blanco

Catapa was born in Belgium and works in conflict prevention and management of mining; supporting rural communities threatened by transnational mining. In this campaign, the FDSFNP, Muqui Network, the civil association FEDEPAZ are also offering their cooperation and partnership.  In the past 20 years many projects have been done for the exploitation of natural resources in Perú.

The effects

Last year the South American country became the main destination for mineral exploration in Latin America, and the third in the world; ranking behind Canada and Australia, yet surpassing U.S. At the same time, more than 15% of Peruvian territory and 48% of the Amazon are covered by oil and gas concessions.

Security members of Río Blanco retain the protesters

Since Monterrico reached the area in 2001 to start its Rio Blanco copper project there have been several conflicts, which in turn have led to numerous violations of human rights.

In 2005 a group of peasants organized a march to the Rio Blanco mining camp to protest against the project. According to witnesses, security members of the camp and the federal police raided the rural Peruvian farmers and delivered a shot to end one of their lives.

Furthermore, two more were wounded by gunfire and a third lost an eye. In addition, about 30 people were detained and tortured. Currently, Monterrico Metals maintains a lawsuit in a London court to respond to these facts.

Information about the Campaign: http://www.mininginparadise.org/en/node/94, http://www.mininginparadise.org/en/node/47, http://www.mininginparadise.org/es/node/46, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBOj4aot3OE, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntkfHnjIBFY&feature=related

(Translated by Olivia Barnett)

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