Peruvian mining conflict with locals in the Andes region remains stalled
A peasant wounded earlier this week during protests against a massive mining project in north western Peru died Thursday, bringing the death toll from the riots to five. Following the clashes with police forces the Peruvian government declared a state of emergency in the area.
Jose Antonio Sanchez Huaman, 29, had been in a coma since he was shot Tuesday in the city of Celendin, a spokesman for the Cajamarca regional health department told Canal N television.
Cajamarca President Gregorio Santos, a leader of a strong opposition movement to the Conga gold mine project, went on Twitter to announce Sanchez’s death and to blame the government of President Ollanta Humala for the killings.
“The victims of the government of OH (Peruvian President Ollanta Humala) are five,” Santos said.
Tuesday’s clash in Celendin left three people dead and a score of others injured while another person was killed the following day amid protests in the town of Bambamarca.
President Humala gave the green light for the controversial Conga project in April, but only on condition the mine operators meet conditions aimed at mitigating its environmental impact.
Humala said the Minera Yanacocha consortium, led by Colorado-based Newmont Mining, will have to ensure the availability and quality of water supplies in the area surrounding Conga.
Activists in Cajamarca claim the conditions laid down by Lima are not sufficient to avert irreparable environmental damage.
Plans for the 4.8 billion dollars project include draining four Andean lakes to develop subsoil gold deposits and replacing them with artificial reservoirs, a process that is scheduled to get under way soon involving 80 million dollars.
However the indigenous population to not trust foreign mining companies and although strong supporters of Humala when the presidential election, have taken distance from his promises.
As with previous Peruvian governments, huge mining development projects are facing growing resistance from the indigenous population who fear he loss of their farming areas and water supplies.
Gold mining needs huge volumes of water and uses highly toxic chemicals such as cyanide.