Yanacocha Accepts Conditions For Minas Conga

Gold mining company Minera Yanacocha has accepted conditions from the government and independent consultants to improve the company’s $4.8 billion Minas Conga project in northern Peru.

“We ratify our decision to implement the recommendations of the international consultation on the Environmental Impact Study of the Conga project, and the proposals created by the president of the republic,” said Carlos Santa Cruz, the vice president in South America for US-based Newmont Mining, which has a majority stake in Yanacocha, owned with Lima-based Buenaventura.

Minas Conga, a gold and copper project, has been on hold since November, following violent protests that shut down much of the city of Cajamarca. Opponents, which include local politicians and residents, have vowed to prevent the development of Minas Conga over concerns that it would harm the water supply as the project calls for draining four mountain lakes.

The company says it will actually increase the water supply by replacing the lakes with reservoirs.

Santa Cruz said that the company’s first activity when restarting the work at Minas Conga will be the construction of reservoirs before building the mine.

“The construction of the reservoirs will contribute to deepening our relationship with Cajamarca and, at the same time, it will show that modern and responsible mining can protect the environment and significantly improve the quality of life of the population through economic development and infrastructure,” the executive said.

Marco Arana, a former Catholic priest who has led protests against Minas Conga, said in a Twitter post that the construction of reservoirs to replace the lakes is not sustainable because there will be costs to maintain the reservoirs.

“The impact of Conga is on five sub-basins and three provinces. That is not resolved with the construction of reservoirs that will have costs to operate,” Arana said.

Although Yanacocha has accepted the suggestions made by the government-commissioned international consultants, and President Ollanta Humala has announced that the Conga project will now go ahead, protests continue in Cajamarca and the regional president, Gregorio Santos, has called for the government to come back to the negotiation table and discuss the issue.

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