Newmont Mining Corp : Peru NGOs Criticize Humala's Handling of Mining Conflicts
07/17/2012| 05:30pm US/Eastern
LIMA--Nongovernment organizations in Peru criticized the administration of President Ollanta Humala on Tuesday for failing to make reforms during his first year in office that they say are needed to resolve social conflicts in the mining sector.
As with previous administrations, Mr. Humala has failed to implement policies to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent protests, according to a report by three NGOs. The report was prepared by CooperAccion, Grufides and Fedepaz.
The NGOs have long been critical of the existing policies in the mining sector, claiming that a number of government tools that are intended to ensure environmental oversight are outdated and lack credibility among the population.
Among the changes, the NGOs have called for strengthening the Environment Ministry and updating the environmental impact study, a key permit required to develop mining projects.
The government's continuation of existing policies has resulted in more social conflicts, as well as an increase in violence during antimining protests, the report charges.
"The conflicts during the last year are not the same as the conflicts 10 years ago," said Jose de Echave, a former deputy environment minister and one of the authors of the report. "The conflicts are increasingly more intense."
According to Peru's ombudsman's office, there were 245 social conflicts in the Andean country last month, up from 217 in June 2011, a month before Mr. Humala took office. About 15 people have been killed in the disputes since Mr. Humala became president.
The latest casualties occurred during protests against Newmont Mining Corp.'s (NEM) Minas Conga copper and gold project. Five people were killed during recent protests, which resulted in the government declaring a state of emergency.
Ending that conflict is now seen as one of the main challenges facing Mr. Humala's year-old government. Analysts say a failure to resolve the dispute could impact Peru's investment climate and derail a pipeline of mining investment projects worth some $53 billion.
Peru is the world's second-biggest producer of copper and silver. It is also a major producer of gold, tin and zinc, among other minerals.
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