Consultants Hand In Review On Newmont’s Minas Conga

Three international consultants charged with reviewing Newmont Mining’s multi-billion dollar Minas Conga copper-gold project have turned over their findings to the Peruvian government.

Cabinet Chief Oscar Valdes and top government officials received the report during a press conference on Tuesday. Authorities and the consultants did not provide many details about the findings, adding that the full report will be published on government websites within 24 hours.

“It has been totally unbiased and transparent,” Valdes said, according to daily El Comercio. “The consultants have been working to evaluate all of the environmental and technical aspects of the Conga project. It has been a very intense job, they have required additional time so it is as complete as possible.”

Engineers Luis Lopez Garcia and Rafael Fernandez Rubio of Spain, and Portuguese geologist Jose Martins Carvalho, were contracted by the government in February to review the Conga environmental impact study.  

Fernandez Rubio said the 260-page report is the result of four trips to Cajamarca as well as discussions with experts that could provide information. “We have acted independently,” he said, adding: “It is not a political document.”

Minas Conga could require investments of about $4.8 billion, making it Peru’s largest private-sector investment project.

The project has come up against stiff opposition from communities in Cajamarca region over concerns about its potential impact on the local water supply. The development of Minas Conga would require draining four high Andean lakes. Newmont, which majority owns Minas Conga, says it would double the water supply for local communities by building reservoirs.

While Peru’s government hopes that the review will help alleviate some of the concerns and let the company move forward on the project, opponents of Minas Conga have already said that they will not recognize the results of the review.  Priest and environmental activist Marco Arana defends this viewpoint on the grounds that the independent consultants have not contacted some of the key Cajamarca authorities who have experience and an in-depth knowledge of the area.

This week, however, regional president Gregorio Santos said they would be willing to read the review before making a final decision.

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