President Humala under fire over mine deaths
President Ollanta Humala has come under fire from all sides of the parliament after the deaths of five protesters in the last week in the Cajamarca region of the country.
The protests centre on the Conga mine, a new venture which will cost American company, Newmont Mining Corporation, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies around $4.8 billion along with their local partners Buenaventura. The group is expected to mine between 580,000 and 680,000 ounces of gold annually.
Operations in the area ceased last November after protests by local people who are concerned about pollution, a lack of water supplies and a lack of investment in the local communities.
President Humala recently gave approval for the work to re-commence after the mining companies had given assurances that they would first build two reservoirs. These will guarantee all year round supplies of water in the area which can suffer from water shortages at certain times of the year.
Although work has started on the reservoirs the protests have continued and on Wednesday a local Roman Catholic priest and environmental campaigner Marco Arana, leader of Tierra y Libertad, was arrested and purportedly beaten.
The deaths of the protesters and the heavy handed actions of the police have raised political and social tensions in the country.