Government suspends Minera Afrodita’s activities in northern Peru

Peru’s government said Wednesday it has indefinitely suspended the exploration activities of a small copper and gold miner in the Cordillera del Cóndor, the dense cloud forest mountain range that straddles the Peru – Ecuador border.

Energy and mines regulator Osinergmin suspended Minera Afrodita’s operations after the mining company was unable to accredit its ownership of the concession rights where it is exploring, Energy and Mines minister Pedro Sánchez Gamarra said in a statement.

Presidential Cabinet chief Javier Velásquez added that the decision to suspend activities was also due to opposition to the mine by Indigenous communities in the area. About 52 native communities in the Cordillera del Cóndor had denounced the company’s operations, saying the mine was responsible for mercury and cyanide contamination in two rivers, affecting more than 3,000 people.

In January 2009, Indian protestors held captive for a week six people, including four Afrodita workers, to demonstrate against the mining activities. Despite the protests, the government provided a drill permit to Afrodita last December.  The permit was for an 800-square kilometer are in the Condor range’s gold-copper belt.

Minera Afrodita S.A.C. is owned by Peruvian geologist Carlos Ballón, who is also a director of the Cardero Group, the umbrella company that includes Dorato Resources.  Vancouver-based Dorato, through a series of option agreements, has a right to acquire 100 percent of Minera Afrodita. Dorato has projects in Ecuador and Chile and has focused on the highly prospective area in the Condor mountain range, which includes world class gold deposits such as Fruta del Norte on the Ecuador side of the border, operated by another Canadian company, Kinross Gold.

Peru is the second largest producer of copper and sixth biggest in gold. It is also a top producer of silver, zinc, tin and lead. Mineral exports consistently account for about 60 percent of Peru’s total export revenue.

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