The battle for Rainbow Mountain

30 June 2018

The extraordinary Mountain of the Seven Colours, or Rainbow Mountain as it is known, has received copious media attention in the last two weeks. It is an important and valuable tourist site in Cuzco.

In March, the regional government proposed a conservation scheme that included the mountain. But back in 2015, the government in Lima had awarded a concession to the Canadian mining company Minquest Peru. This was for an area of 400 hectares that included several sites (so-called ‘Red Beds’), covering an area between the municipalities of Cusipata and Pitumarca. It also included the Mountain of the Seven Colours.

This disjuncture between two planning systems comes to light because the preservation of this spectacular national asset, with its enormous tourist potential, generated huge national and international interest. A a consequence the company has now relinquished its interest in the concession Red Beds Two, closest to the Mountain, while retaining the others.

Of course, the conservation of areas for touristic and environmental reasons is important, but what of the many other instances where such conflicts jeopardise the lives and values of communities but fail to hit the headlines? The NGO Cooperacción makes the point that what this controversy really reveals is the need for much better coordination between regional territorial planning and the central government’s policies in awarding of mining concessions.

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