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PERU - Minera Majaz, a threat to water and food supply

PERU - Minera Majaz, a threat to water and food supply

BRUSSELS - For the past few years Minera Majaz, subsidiary of the English Monterrico Metals company, has been operating illegally in the Northern territories of Peru. It’s “Rio Blanco” project is threatening the environment and violating the region’s inhabitant’s rights to food and water. A violent social conflict between corporate forces and the peasant communities of Piura has been taking place.


Nicanor Alvarado Carrasco, director of the Vicariate of the Environment in Jaen, Cajamarca is one of the spokesmen for these peasant communities. At the moment, he is giving conferences in various European countries to alert the international community of the disastrous situation in the region of Piura. He is also doing this to gain support from various international human rights organizations that can help put pressure on Montericco Metals and the Peruvian government.

Minera Majaz and illegal practices
One of Minera Majaz’s 8 concessions is being used for the “Rio Blanco” project which consists in exploiting copper and molybdenum in opencast. The license the company is operating with is illegal. It did not take into consideration the opinions of the peasant communities of the region. To be able to operate legally in these regions, companies need the approval of 2/3 of the people. The “Rio Blanco” project does not have that.

Peasant communities protest
The peasant communities of Piura have organized many marches and events in protest to this illegal occupation and exploitation of their land. Their main concerns: the effects the mine could have on the environment and on their agricultural activities, which for many, is their only source of life.

Many of the protestors have been hurt and some even killed by the police forces guarding the Minera Majaz’s territories. During two marches to the mining campment in April 2004 and August 2005, two peasant leaders were murdered during the protests.

Environmental consequences
Opencast mines are known to have a huge environmental impact, because of all the chemical products they use. The provinces of Huancabamba and Ayavaca are very rich in resources and very productive, (fruits, coffee, etc.) but they are situated in mist forests, making them very vulnerable to contamination. The rivers of Chinchipe, Maranon and Quirez are also threatened, and if they are contaminated, would deprive many of their right to water. The mine will also be built close to the National Sanctuary of Tabaconas Namballe and could endanger various different species. “The impact is going to be brutal.” states Nicanor.

The Battle continues
Nicanor and his people are continuing to fight to gain support and to avoid an environmental disaster from happening. “The only thing a human-being can lose is his dignity. Our peasant people defend their water, and they defend their water with their lives.”

A protest organized by CATAPA, FIAN and Friend of the Earth, is taking place in front of the Monterrico Metals headquarters in London, on April 2nd. A hundred people from various European countries are expected to participate.