Pressure builds for Tia Maria to start up

17 December 2018

Tía María is a large copper deposit located in the south of Peru in the province of Islay, in Arequipa. The rights are owned by Southern Peru Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of Grupo México. From the very start of Southern's involvement, there have been serious concerns over the mine’s impact on water supplies for local agriculture in this relatively prosperous river valley.

In 2011, protests against the project led to the deaths of three people. The project was then put on hold. A revised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was approved in August 2014, although the construction permit is still pending. The EIA led to a new round of protests which, in March 2015, included a march by 800 people; many were injured. In May 2015, three more people died in the protest, and the project was again put on hold.

Today, Southern is increasing its pressure on the government to grant it the construction permit which would enable the project to get going. The pressure is growing in part as the date on which the current EIA expires (August 2019) is drawing near. 

Meanwhile the government has restated its commitment to avoid imposing a decision on the communities, while the company says it is winning community support. Its latest effort to this end is a survey indicating that 66% of those surveyed in the Tambo valley, the key area affected, consider that the project will benefit the local population.

Tía María’s opponents, however, claim that the company has not published the data necessary to evaluate the representativeness of the sample used. Even if this is validated, Southern still needs to learn a fundamental lesson: to win back trust requires complete transparency. Adding to the current climate of distrust are the legal cases hanging over community leaders arising from their role in the 2015 protests.

All news

  • PSG Aims

    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

  • Historical Overview

    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

  • Human Rights

    Human rights violations were widespread during the twenty years after the initiation of armed conflict in 1980. Efforts to convict perpetrators since the war's end have made only limited progress. Today, concerns remain over the treatment of those engaged in social protest, particularly against strategically important investment projects.

  • Why join the PSG?

    • Keep up to date with latest news and developments in Peru
    • Learn about key issues of poverty, development and human rights in Peru
    • Support the work of the Peru Support Group

    Become a member