OEFA moves to curb contamination

19 January 2019

Peru's Agency for Environmental Assessment and Inspection (OEFA), the government agency responsible for monitoring the environment and imposing sanctions, moved last week to impose controls on two foreign mining companies.

The first orders the Chinese-owned Shougang, producing at Marcona and Peru's only iron ore producer, to desist from the transporting or storing of iron ore or concentrates from its smelter in the Ica region. OEFA carried out inspections at the mine and detected leaks owing to inadequate controls in storage and transport. 

The second instance concerns the South African company, Gold Fields, at its Cerro Corona mine in the province of Hualgayoc in Cajamarca. Community groups there have been denouncing contamination of water from a natural drainage system affected by tailings from the mine. They claim that this led to the death of 17,000 trout in a local trout farm. OEFA’s requirements include the company implementing within 20 days a system of control to monitor the source of the contamination at Las Tomas and to provide a storage tank of emergency clean water. The company has 45 days to complete more fundamental work to stop the contamination. 

Since December, the principal social organisations of the province of Hualgayoc have been pressing for action. They have threatened an indefinite strike as of 6 February if insufficient progress is made. Their protest targets Gold Fields but is aimed also at other companies in the area. Community leaders propose adding to their demands the need for analysis of health condition among the inhabitants of Bambamarca. 

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