Peru Miners Look For Greater Dialogue With Communities

Mining companies in Peru will look to begin a process of reconciliation and dialogue with communities in their operations areas in order to avoid further social conflicts in the Andean nation, state news agency Andina reported the CEO of Southern Copper Corp, Oscar Gonzalez Rocha, as saying.

Gonzalez Rocha, who inaugurated the Perumin 2011 mining conference in Arequipa on Monday, said that companies and communities should work together to promote development and avoid conflicts.

“We should seek reconciliation that allows for a new mining dialogue, which signifies solidifying the development of large projects,” Gonzalez Rocha said.

One of the projects that has been halted recently is Southern Copper’s Tia Maria, located in the province of Islay in Arequipa region. Tia Maria has a projected investment of $934 million.  The government ordered the project be stopped in April following 17 days of violent protests by people in Islay.

Gonzalez Rocha said that the new projects, which require a total investment of about $42.5 billion over the next 10 years, will provide more funds for social development.

“There will be more mining canon and more royalties, that if appropriately applied by local authorities can be beneficial to the people living in poverty or extreme poverty,” Gonzalez Rocha said.

A high percentage of the 200+ social conflicts in the country are due to environmental, water and property concerns of communities around mining development projects.  In August, Congress approved the Prior Consultation Law which now requires that indigenous communities be provided with full information on any new development project being considered in their area, and that their concerns and opinion be taken into consideration for making the final decisions.

Peru’s government announced in August that it had reached an agreement with mining companies to raise taxes in the industry to receive an extra 3 billion soles a year, about $1 billion. The government has not announced the rates of the new tax, but Gonzalez Rocha said that the government is making the final adjustments.

Perumin 2011, which is being held in Arequipa this week, has brought together close to 700 companies in the mining industry and is expected to receive at least 30,000 visitors.

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