State Of Emergency Lifted In Peru’s Cajamarca Region

A state of emergency in parts of the north Andean region of Cajamarca was lifted Monday, two months after civil liberties were suspended.

Peru’s government said over the weekend that it would not renew the state of emergency in three provinces in Cajamarca.

A 30-day state of emergency was enacted in early July following protests against the Minas Conga gold and copper project to be developed by Yanacocha, which is majority-owned by U.S.-based Newmont Mining and by Peruvian mining company Buenaventura. Five people were killed during those protests, and many others were injured.

President Ollanta Humala’s government had decided in early August to extend the state of emergency for another 30 days, despite the willingness of most Cajamarca leaders to come to the negotiation table for talks with the government and the mining company.

Protesters, led by Cajamarca Regional President Gregorio Santos, are opposed to Minas Conga over its potential environmental impact. The project would involve draining highland lakes, and channelling the water to with reservoirs, which the Yanacocha has begun to build.

The dispute over Minas Conga, one of Peru’s biggest private investment projects, has harmed the local economy of Cajamarca, and also raised concerns of its broader impact on mining investments in the Andean country.

Jorge Vergara, the president of Cajamarca’s Chamber of Commerce, said that he hopes talks between opponents and supporters of the project can now restart.

However this may still be difficult. Santos recently said that he now wants Yanacocha  to remove its machinery from Minas Conga. However, company representatives said they would not do that, which has led Santos to now demand that Yanacocha leave all its gold mines in Cajamarca.

“We are in favor of the Conga project and all responsible investment projects because the development comes with investments. They create jobs and that is what we need,” said Vergara, according to state news agency Andina.

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