Illegal mining sparks another protest in Peru
August 29, 2022
A confrontation between protestors and police in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios in Peru resulted in at least one dead and 13 injured, reports Reuters. The country’s Interoceanic Highway was blocked by the protestors for a significant period of time, delaying some of the country’s mining operations. Previous protests, such as the one at the Las Bambas mine (see 4/29/22 LADB), have even halted work, as police, Indigenous communities, and mining companies attempted to reach an agreement. This protest comes as indigenous communities object to the operations of mining companies on their historical land and to the lack of compliance by mining companies with previous agreements, among other complaints.
The Guardian reports an estimated 46,000 people mining in the Madre de Dios region, a “gold-rush town and hub for organized crime.” Locals criticize lack of police enforcement or efforts to deter violence related to illegal mining. According to Peru’s human rights coordinator, 29 people have been killed in mining-related incidents since 2020, with rates increasing following the considerable rise in the price of gold in recent months. Other mining-related criminal activity has also surged.
Peru is the world’s second-largest copper producer, and delays in mining can have a significant impact on the country’s exports and economy. Last week, the country’s finance minister announced that the country’s economic growth forecast was lowered to 3.3% this year, after falling metal prices, high inflation, and political instability forced the government to discard its previous plan to increase taxes on the mining industry, says Reuters. Copper production fell by 10% so far this year due to community protests that disrupted or even shut down mining operations. Peru also exports gold, though an estimated 10-15% of the metal’s production is conducted illegally.
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