Conflict at Coroccohuayco: accounting for history in EIAs
29 July 2018
The extension of Antapaccay, Glencore’s next mining project, at Coroccohuayco is close to approval. But the surrounding communities are far from happy.
There were protests in February by the community of Huano Huano over the company’s failure to fulfil various community investment commitments. These were designed to balance the negative impact of the mine.
Last week saw 2,000 community members from 13 communities protesting about their exclusion from the area of influence of the mine’s extension. This means they are denied any chance to participate in discussion over the mine’s impact.
Meanwhile, the NGO Cooperacción has issued a trenchant criticism of Glencore’s new EIA text for Coroccohuayco.
This critique says that the text fails to consider the delicate and difficult context in which the project will be carried out, both in terms of its human rights and environmental impacts. While such matters are not typically covered by EIAs, they are arguably essential to understanding the mine’s likely impact.
Recognition of the impact of past conflict and the violation of rights both to individuals and to the environment are highly germane to its social license. The past unfortunately plays a role that cannot be ignored.
This includes years of abuse at Tintaya, the original mine, at the hands of the state company that took over from the Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation and then by the multinationals that came after. However, there was a period of creative relations led by BHP Billiton’s remarkable director of human resources in Peru, Lucio Ríos. This was helped along by Community Aid Abroad (Oxfam Australia) and their 'Ombudsman for extractives', Ingrid Birkett, always known as just Ingrid.
This improvement was followed by frustration and a return to conflict. BHP Billiton sold Tintaya to Xstrata and, in due course, Glencore took over. The approach to community relations became more hard line. At the same time, evidence of the scale of environmental damage from Tintaya was growing (although inconclusive).
Protest broke out in 2012 that led to serious violence. Several protesters were killed at the hands of the police. This episode is still subject to an action in the UK High Court against Xstrata, before it transformed into Glencore.
To expect EIAs to include a full appreciation of the accumulated consequences of past history is perhaps a bridge too far. Still, it is a worthy aspiration.