Peru residents protest proposed gold mine

Nov. 26, 2011 at 1:11 PM
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LIMA, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Opponents of a proposed gold mine in northern Peru say it would destroy four lakes and threaten the area's water supply.

Gregorio Santos, the president of the Cajamarca region, asked President Ollanta Humala to meet with opponents about the mine's potential social and environmental impacts, the Los Angeles Times reported. Locals worry the mine "could destroy the entire ecosystem," Santos said.

On Thursday, about 10,000 residents marched in protest against the project, and Santos said last week Humala's support for the mine indicated he faced pressure from "transnational capitalism."

Protesters have blocked roads, and some Cajamarca-area schools and businesses closed to protest the proposed mine.

It would be operated by Colorado company Newmont Mining, which also runs the Yanacocha open-pit gold mine 20 miles to the north.

The company has proposed investing $4 billion in the proposed mine, which could yield 580,000 to 680,000 ounces of gold per year and bring in royalties and taxes to the government that could total $800 million, the Times said.

The mine would also produce copper.

Opponents say the project would threaten the four lakes in the high Andes that may be connected to the aquifer that produces drinking water in the area.

The Times said protests have become more violent in recent days and protesters reportedly entered the Yanacocha mine site Thursday and destroyed a warehouse.

Humala said Peru needs the proposed mine and the profits and jobs it would bring. Mining has played a significant role in Peru's economic growth.

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