Yesterday was Newmont Mining Corporation’s annual general meeting, held in Delaware.
Mass protest in 2004, the last time Newmont proposed expanding its Yanacocha mine into Cerro Quilish. Credit: GRUFIDES
In the weeks leading up to the AGM, reports started to trickle in about the world’s second largest gold mining company’s activities around Cerro Quilish, a mountain in northern Peru that is of spiritual significance and a water source for thousands of residents in and around Cajamarca.
This news was a turnaround from Newmont’s decision to back off from its proposal to mine Cerro Quilish, following weeks of protest by the region’s residents in Fall 2004, which temporarily shut down Newmont’s operations at the Yanacocha mine near Cajamarca.
In the years since then, Newmont has taken steps that suggest it is trying to improve on this checkered track record with communities:
- it undertook a review of its community relations at active mine sites,
- it has been an active participant in the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), and
- it has stated a commitment to the principle of free, prior and informed consent.
These are welcome steps that have been praised by civil society groups and investors alike.
So which Newmont is it going to be?
The Newmont of old, that is constantly under fire from civil society groups and receiving ongoing media scrutiny?
Or the Newmont of new, that has the potential to lead the mining industry towards more responsible practices, and is committed to only moving forward with projects that have the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of affected communities?
I sincerely hope it will be the latter.
That’s why environmental and human rights groups are calling on Newmont to suspend all plans to develop Cerro Quilish and to be the first mining company to implement an FPIC policy.
Newmont has a tremendous opportunity to show leadership by taking the steps and I hope I it will do so. This is no time to step backwards.