December 1st, 2011 — “Earthworks welcomes this week's decision by Newmont Mining Co. to suspend the development of its controversial Conga mine in northern Peru at the request of President Ollanta Humala. The Minas Conga development has been at the center of many weeks of protests by community members and elected officials who are concerned about the project’s impacts on the environment, water supplies, health and livelihoods. The project is a partnership between Newmont, Peruvian company Buenaventura, and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).
We urge the company, government and communities to open up a meaningful dialogue process that is undertaken in good faith. We also encourage all parties at the table to take the necessary time to build trust and address concerns.
Newmont Mining operates Latin America’s largest gold mine, Yanacocha, in northern Peru, and this is not the first time that Newmont’s Peruvian operations have been mired in controversy. In 2000, a truck carrying mercury from the Yanacocha deposit spilled 330 pounds of the toxic chemical along a road near the town of Choropampa, sickening hundreds of people, including children. In 2004, Newmont Mining was forced to suspend plans to develop the Cerro Quilish deposit after residents blockaded roads and protested the project. In 2007, a shareholder resolution spurred the company to undertake a review of its community relationships at existing global operations. The Conga mine provides the company with an opportunity for improving its controversial track record of community relationships and demonstrating its commitment to meaningful consultation.
In August 2011, Peru passed a new right to consultation law, which will require all mining, oil and gas companies to acquire the consent of Indigenous communities that will be impacted by these projects. That same month, the IFC, a partner in the Conga project, revised its Performance Standards to require the free, prior and informed consent of communities to be affected by projects it finances. Earthworks calls on Newmont, Buenaventura, and the IFC to work to implement these recommendations with respect to the Conga project.
Earthworks does not condone the use of violence or weapons by any parties. We support the right to peaceful and non-violent protest.”