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GRUFIDES, a sustainable development group in Cajamarca, announced yesterday the filing of a new lawsuit against Newmont Mining for taking people’s lands when the company and its partner started up the Yanacocha mine in Peru in the mid-1990s. The community of San Andres de Negritos filed the suit yesterday against Newmont and the government of Peru for having taken more than 600 ha of their communal lands to build the mine.

This new lawsuit comes during recent and ongoing formal complaints and protests over a spill of acidic effluent contaminating communities’ water supplies. The regional government of Cajamarca even issued a statement condemning the spill and taking note of protests.

The following is an English translation of the GRUFIDES announcement:

“Today Minera Yanacocha was sued in a Civil Court of Cajamarca for operating on illegally obtained lands. The farmer community of San Andres de Negritos today filed a lawsuit against Minera Yanacocha and the State for having violated their right to property, having illegally removed a large tract of lands from their communal property.

The act occurred between 1993 and 1995, when Minera Yanacocha (owned by Newmont Gold, the Benavides family and the World Bank) as well as the Peruvian state (civil servants of the Fujimori government), taking advantage of a series of illegal and obscure procedures, managed to snatch 620 ha from the farming community as expropriation and mining servitude that violated the existing law on rural communities.

To the company it was a wonder: the titles of the snatched lands were rapidly taken to the World Bank (partner of Yanacocha with 5% of the shares) and to a German bank where they granted financing of $80 million that was everything that the company invested in its first year of operations and which was recovered in only 4 months. For the promptness with which it recovered “its” investment, in its second year of operation, the miner was recognized among the top 10 in Peru. Thus were business deals made in the days of the corrupt Alberto Fujimori government!

Although the people came protesting verbally without anyone listening to them, it is only 16 years later that it has been possible to pull together the evidence necessary to allow denunciation today of the miner and the Peruvian State for having committed a series of irregularities, broke the laws and surprised the leaders of the rural community by taking control to manage to appropriate part of the communal territories.

Without a doubt, this lawsuit reveals what lawyer Mirtha V squez of the NGO Grufides calls the “original sin” of this powerful mining company, that came to be the “jewel of the queen’s crown” of the Newmont Gold corporation that constructed thus the biggest gold mine in Latin America… on land obtained illegally.”

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