The plan of the company Minera Majaz S.A. to exploit copper and molybdenum from the RÃo Blanco mine was opposed by thousands of farmers, local community representatives, Mayors, provincial administrators as well as social and environmental organisations.TRADUZIONI : italiano
In 2001 Minera Majaz S. A., a subsidiary of the English company Monterrico Metals, obtained eight concessions in the North of Peru, including the 6,472 hectares RÃo Blanco mine, for the exploitation of copper and molybdenum. Thousands of farmers, local community representatives, Mayors, provincial administrators together with social and environmental organisations opposed the project, demanding the cancellation of environmental certification granted to Minera Majaz S. A. for exploratory operations.
In 1994 the company Cyprus Antacori, which managed the Coripancha mine, bid for the RÃo Blanco mine project concession. Following huge protest rallies by local communities, the company decided to withdraw from the project. In 2001 Minera Majaz S.A., founded by Monterrico Metals, obtained the concession, and became in 2003 the outright owner. The project, with an initial cost of US$1.44 billion, planned to exploit copper and molybdenum deposits using âopen pitâ and floating cone mining techniques. The company estimated mineral production of 25 million tons per year, over twenty years, and calculated the project needed 25 km (15 miles) of new roads and electrical networks, as well as a port at Bayovar on the Pacific coast, 800 km from Lima. Meanwhile, 143 bore holes were sunk, defining the extent and magnitude of the site.
The RÃo Blanco mine project extended over the farming communities of Segunda, Cajas de Huancabamba province and Yanta de Ayavaca, in the districts of El Carmen de la Frontera and Ayabaca. The area has two extremely important ecosystems, a PÃ¡ramo (neotropical ecosystem) and the Forest of Fog, where the water sources serving local communities are found.
The Peruvian NGO publication CooperacciÃ³n, reports that although the company plans to use advanced technologies to reduce environmental impacts, mineral extraction work will contaminate land and water sources, directly affecting agricultural activities and the lives of local people;
Biodiversity in the PÃ¡ramo and the Forest of Fog are at risk, which in turn could create negative impacts on local water sources;
The Central Piurana de Cafetaleros, an organic coffee producing co-operative, claims that the project will damage the land in El Carmen de la Frontiera, where alternative development projects of organic coffee production are carried out;
The presence of Minera Majaz led to very strong social conflicts. The company used questionable methods in dealing with local communities. There were cases of threats and aggression towards farm leaders, and farmers being accused of terrorism and drug dealing;
140 farm leaders were prosecuted for protesting against the company. The farmers did not have access to legal aid;
There was a strong National Police presence in the area to protect the mine, but this resulted in the restriction of free movement for farmers on their own land, violating their property rights and integrity.
1994: The Cyprus Antacori Company, which already manages the Coripancha Mine, submits its first bid for the RÃo Blanco mining project concession. Following huge protest rallies by local communities it withdraws from the project.
2001: Minera Majaz S.A., founded by Monterrico Metals, obtains the concession to Rio Blanco, becoming the sole mine owner in 2003.
2002: The company Normandy conducts explorations in the area, but decides to withdraw following community opposition.
January 22, 2003: Majaz submits an environmental impact study.
November 28, 2003: The Company is authorised to explore the mine region.
January 15, 2004: Local Mayors and community representatives call a meeting to protest against the mining project.
March 7, 2004: An assembly of 3,000 farmers warns the company to abandon the project and quit the area in 15 days.
April 22, 2004: The Police kill farmer Reemberto Herrera Racho.
July 25, 2005: During a protest rally of 5,000 people, the farmer Melanio GarcÃa GonzÃ¡les is killed.
July 28â30 , 2005: The police brutally represses a protest rally of 2,000 farmers on land owned by Minera Majaz.
August 1, 2005: The Police arrest many of the farmers participating at the 28th-30th July protest rally; many more are injured by Police brutality.
August 3, 2005: The Bishop of Chulucanas, the Vice Minister of Mining and the Piura Ombudsman, meet with local Mayors and farmersâ representatives at San Ignacio Church to try and reach an agreement. They discuss demands for: a greater respect of farmer’s human rights, the trial of Police who commit violence and murder and the cancellation of the mining company environmental impact study authorisation. Unknown assailants storm the meeting and attack participants.
September 24, 2005: The Front for the Sustainable Development of North PerÃº (FDSFNP) is created, composed of local Mayors, residents of the farming communities around Huancabamba, Ayabaca de Piura, JaÃ©n, San Ignacio de Cajamarca and members of the Front for the Defence of Tambogrande.
January 24, 2006: The first meeting between the FDSFNP and the Majaz company takes place. They decide to create a commission to investigate the violence in the area.
Febbraio 9, 2006: A commission is planned to investigate the legality of the environmental impact study.
March 12, 2006: Participants are attacked at a meeting between the FDSFNP and the Nuqui network in Huancabamba. The mining company is blamed for the violence.
March 26, 2006: The âViabilidad o no del Proyecto RÃo Blancoâ (Is the Rio Blanco project feasible or not?) forum is held in Ayabaca.
March 30, 2006: No company representatives attend a meeting to re-open negotiations.
April 28, 2006: During the negotiation meeting, in the presence of the Piura Ombudsman, Majaz do not recognise the legitimacy of the FDSFNP to speak. The Ombudsman states it is necessary to conduct a formal investigation of Majaz mine and suspends company activities in the area.
May 29-30, 2006: A strike is held in the provinces of San Ignacio, Huancabamba and Ayabaca, against the presence of Minera Majaz.
August 9, 2006: The Ombudsman announces irregularities in the project’s environmental impact study submitted by Minera Majaz.
September 1, 2006: The Minister of Energy and Mines replies to remarks from the Ombudsman.
September 11, 2006: The Majaz mining company issues a statement apologising for generating violence and announcing internal company changes, which simply means a change in the Board of Directors.
September 16, 2006: The Muqui network, specialist consultants to the FDSFNP, state that Majaz should not just issue apologies, but recognise the human rights violations and the illegal acts occurring.
December 2006: The Company submits its feasibility study for Rio Blanco, to be completed by the end of 2006, and announce that a new environmental impact study will be ready by the start of 2007.
September 16, 2007: A referendum on regional mineral activities is held by the Mayors of Ayabaca, Carmen de la Frontera and Paicapampa; more than 90 percent of farmers oppose the Majaz RÃo Blanco project and ask the Government to respect their decision.
May 16, 2008: The Permanent Peoples Tribunal meets in Lima for the âCumbre de los Pueblosâ(The People’s Summit) and issues a Sentence morally and ethically condemning the conduct and practices of Minera Majaz regarding the Rio Blanco mine project.
Alliance for the Development of Huancabamba
Centre for Analysis and Resoultion of Conflicts of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru - CARC-PUCP
General Mining Laws
Political Constitution of Peru
OIL (International Labour Organisation) Convention 169
Hacia una EstimaciÃ³n de los Efectos de la Actividad Minera en los Indices de Pobreza en el PerÃº. Torres C., Victor ; De Echave C., JosÃ©. Ed. CooperacciÃ³n 2005.
MinerÃa y Comunidades Testimonios Orales y GrÃ¡ficos. CooperacciÃ³n. 2000.
Rondas campesinas de mujeres, participacion social y politica, y problematica ambiental en Bambamarca. Chacon Raul. 2005
INFORME DE CONFLICTOS MINEROS : los casos de Majaz, las Bambas, Tintaya y la Oroya. CooperacciÃ³n 2006.
Â¡Quiten las manos de nuestros recursos naturales ! . Friends of the earth. 2003.
MinerÃa. Impactos sociales y ambientales. World Rainforest Movement. 2004
Permanent Peoples Tribunal Sentence