New book launched on Las Bambas

29 September 2018

Last week’s launch of a book on Las Bambas involved a panel of leading experts on the ways in which the lack of governance surrounding mining projects contributes to confrontation and violence. The book, by Leonidas Wiener Ramos, a lawyer and specialist in socio-environmental conflict, is entitled “Governance and Governability: the Case of Las Bambas”.

Wiener Ramos argues that Las Bambas is more than just a conflict over environmental impacts; rather it reveals the lack in governance in responding to community demands for adequate participation and a share of the benefits. The period under investigation is between 2013 and 2017. For him, governability requires the participation of all social actors within a localised political system and their connections at the national level.

The author explains how the current situation reflects a lack of legitimacy. This stems from the way the mining project was sold to MMG and the subsequent changes to the environmental impact assessment without any consultation with the communities affected. Coupled to the government’s inability to respond to society’s demands, he argued, this led to “high deficits in governability”.

Present at the event were: José Carlos Orihuela, economist and lecturer at the Catholic University; Anthony Bebbington, Professor of Environment and Society, Clark University; Ivan Lanegra, specialist in environmental law; and Evelyn Carrero, president of the Regional Council of Apurímac. They reflected on some of the causes that led to the situation of conflict at Las Bambas.

Bebbington pointed at the lack of planning in the ways the revenue generated by the copper mining project might lead to regional development, giving more “emphasis in copper exploitation rather than in regional development”. Lanegra concluded that the conflict was the consequence of the [socio-political] asymmetries, which have turned into violence in view of “the lack of institutional space”.

Concluding the panel, Carrero reaffirmed that the communities of Apurímac are not against mining as such, but that the mine has not only failed to reduce divisions but has further increased them.

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