Report: 'Towards a New Vision for Mining in Peru in 2030'
20 August 2016
An important document under this title was presented at the ‘Congreso Internacional de Relacones Comunitarias’ held in Lima 17-19 August. The document comprises two parts: first a ‘vision statement’ prepared by the Driving Group, and second a first-rate, comprehensive and concise background paper on mining and its prospects in Peru prepared by the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia.
The composition of the Driving Group is obviously of critical importance to understanding the ‘vision’. It comprised representatives of companies involved in several of the largest and in many respects more problematic mining projects, four representatives of the Oficina Nacional de Desarrollo y Sustenibilidad (ONDS), a consultant and a technical team. The ONDS is an agency of the Council of Ministers, and aims to provide a “space for multi-stakeholder dialogue” on mining.
The 'vision' seeks to describe what Peru could be by 2030, and what needs to be done to achieve this outcome. By ‘could be’, the report envisages Peru as a leading mining country in the region, with a vibrant innovative and sustainable mining industry, internationally competitive and with a strong social licence that respects human rights and ethical standards. The ‘what needs to be done’ involves many steps that government needs to take to improve environmental management and the management of conflict. Without these, the document suggests, there is a serious risk that as mineral prices recover, investor interest will have shifted elsewhere.
Support for technical capacity and infrastructure is also important. The private sector is urged to adopt and respect international standards, support participation and consultation, and respect human rights. A useful recommendation is that firms should work harder on synergies and linkages with other economic sectors. Such commitment by these representatives from the private sector to more effective environmental controls is surprising and welcome, as is their awareness of the structural issues behind community conflict.
What is missing is any element of community participation in the genesis of this ‘vision’. For all its emphasis on the importance of consultation, the document has been prepared in top-down fashion. The document is supposed to provide the basis for consultation, but how such consultation will be done is not discussed.
The difficulty of negotiating with civil society is also underplayed: radical solutions will be needed if the fragmentation of communities is to be addressed, their fears overcome, and their weak negotiating capacity strengthened.
In general, the analysis in the document is perceptive and solid, though the difficult issue of the police working for the private sector is ignored. Its critique of the canon is important, but the need to re-balance national and regional development requirements in the allocation of resources should have been addressed.