|Peru’s Conga Mine Conflict: Cajamarca Won’t Capitulate|
|Written by Lynda Sullivan|
The fight over the Conga mining project is one of Peru’s largest current social conflicts. Today, the local population continues resisting the imposition of one of Latin America`s largest gold mining projects – Minas Conga. The situation remains tense, and the resistance continues, but with an intensified sense of urgency because as the battles are won and lost, many feel that the conflict is nearing its conclusion.
The struggle against the Conga project has been a long and arduous one already (1). To summarize, Conga is a 4.8 billion dollar project of Yanacocha – a company which combines the interests of Newmont mining corporation (US-based), Buenaventura (Peru) and the IFC of the World Bank. It aims to destroy the head of the water basin for the province of Celendin, and in part that of neighboring Cajamarca and Hualgayoc, leaving severe water shortage and contamination. This would prove disastrous for the mainly rural provinces of the region of Cajamarca, in the northern highlands of Peru, where the majority of dwellers live by agriculture and cattle rearing. It would be an aggressive open pit mining project, an Earth-destroying technique that Newmont itself initiated in the early 1960s (2), and similar but more expansive than Yanacocha`s previous work in Cajamarca. For this the population rejecting the project have a fair idea of what is in store – all they need to do is look next door to the devastation that 20 years of open pit mining has left in its wake (to see more about the particulars of this devastation please see the aforementioned article).
The campaign against the project is growing stronger, constantly renewing itself as the pressure crushes the spirits of some and makes space for others. The struggle doesn`t belong to any one person, or any particular high-profile figure, as the mass media would have you believe, rather the struggle is of the people, and for this it remains strong. Though it is this very fact that has led to an intensification of the repression and criminalization of the resistance – as the government and Yanacocha become ever more desperate to push the project through 'by blood and by fire' (3).
(My translation of Cossio's comic appears in Revista Hiedra - Spring 2015)