In Peru four Andean lakes in the mountains of Cajamarca are threatened by Conga Mine (Newmont Mining Project, Peru Buenaventura and the International Finance Corporation) which is looking to start a $4,800 million mining project. The Guardians of the lakes have promoted large demonstrations against the destruction of their lakes. The government has responded with the criminalization of hundreds of people, beatings and arrests. Five people have died and yet no one is held responsible. The government opposes the request.
Objective of the Tribunal bring the case before the Tribunal.
The Conga mine project is intended to impact communities in the province of Cajamarca, Peru. The area consists of four lakes fed by five watersheds from which water for communities is distributed. Conga has about 700 springs and more than a hundred water catchments. Conga is part of a rich biodiverse and fragile ecosystem. This area has authorized mining based on an environmental impact report commissioned by the government of Peru’s Ministry of Mines in spite of serious objections stated by the Ministry of Environment. Conga borders Yanacocha, another mining area, and is part of 16 mining projects, which will be exploited by Brazilian and Chinese companies with the consent of the Peruvian government.
Effects of mining in neighboring area of Yanacocha:
The guardians of the lagoons, as communities living in the area who are aware of the harm of mining are called, reported that surface mining is done without the right to free, prior, informed consultation with the communities and with disregard to listening to signs of nature.
The plaintiffs presented evidence that mining activity has caused ponds to dry and irrigation canals to disappear. Mercury runoff contaminates rivers killing sheep, trout and other wildlife. Mining destroys livelihood of communities resulting in poverty, causes deep wounds to Mother Nature, and generates irreversible effects to nature, including human beings. The plaintiffs assert that there is no state authority that can listen, understand and solve this case.
Against this background, plaintiffs request that the case be accepted.
The Tribunal resolved to admit the case and also decided to appoint a special committee to visit the area and gather information on the situation.
(download the presentation of this case here)
Related follow up story:
Read story of Indigenous Peruvian farmworker Maxima Acuña de Chaupe who withstood violent eviction attempts, beatings, and a legal battle to protect her land from being turned into an open-pit gold mine.