control of water
More than 500 residents in the campesino community of Tumpa in Yungay province of Peru's central Andean region of Áncash, began blocking roads leading to the local operations of the Mina California company Aug. 6, declaring an open-ended paro (civil strike) to demand a halt to the mine's pollution of local waters. The mine is located near Nevado Huascarán, Peru's highest mountain, and the national park of the same name, which forms the headwaters of several of Peru's major rivers. (Servindi, Aug. 6) That same day, Aymara indigenous residents of Acora community in Puno region announced that a 72-hour paro will begin Aug. 13, to protest President Ollanta Humala's plans to move ahead with the Pasto Grande II irrigation project. The Pasto Grande II project would divert waters from the Lake Titicaca basin for agribusiness tracts on the coast in Moquegua region. The strike, called by the South Puno Natural Resources Defense Front, will also protest contamination of local waters by mining and other extractive industries. (Pachamama Radio, Aug. 10; Los Andes via La Mula, Aug. 6)
More than 100 local residents were sickened by a spill of toxic copper concentrate at one of Peru's biggest mines Aug. 3. The Áncash regional health office said 140 people were treated for "irritative symptoms caused by the inhalation of toxins" after a pipeline carrying the concentrate under high pressure burst open in the village of Santa Rosa de Cajacay. Most of those affected had joined in efforts to prevent liquid copper slurry from reaching the nearby Río Fortaleza after the pipe linking the Antamina copper mine to the coast ruptured last week, said village mayor Hilario Morán. "Without taking into account the consequences, we pitched in to help," Morán told the Associated Press by phone. The people used absorbent fabric provided by the mine but were not given gloves or protective masks, admitted the mine's environmental director Antonio Mendoza. Shortly afterward, people became ill, vomiting, suffering headaches and nose bleeds.
Jamie Sokalsky, CEO of the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation, announced on July 26 that major problems were delaying the opening of the company’s controversial Pascua Lama gold and silver mine, located in the Andes on both sides of the border between Argentina and Chile. The project will cost as much as $8 billion, he said, 60% more than previously projected, and gold won't be produced until mid-2014, a year later than expected. Barrick's stocks dropped quickly, although they recovered somewhat, ending the day down by about 4.32%. The mining giant’s shares have fallen by almost 33% since the beginning of the year.
On July 20 soldiers, police and supposed "pro-mining activists" broke up an encampment that environmentalists and area residents had set up at Cerro Negro in the northwestern Argentine province of Catamarca to protest open-pit mining. The environmentalists--who came from Córdoba, La Rioja, Santa Fe, San Juan and Buenos Aires as well as from Catamarca—had camped out at the intersection of national highways 40 and 60 since July 9 to block trucks heading to the massive Bajo de la Alumbrera gold and copper deposit near the border with Chile. The protesters let other traffic pass.