Quellaveco faces strike threat

17 August 2019

On Monday 12 August, 'an indefinite strike' was announced at Quellaveco in Moquegua region, arousing concerns since the copper and molybdenum project is several times larger than the conflict-beset Tía María in next-door Arequipa. Construction of the mine, owned by the consortium Anglo American-Mitsubishi, is 25% advanced. It is due to come into production in 2022. Some road blocks appear to have been set up.

The strikers, backed by regional Governor Zenon Cuevas, claim that the commitments made in the 2012 Dialogue Table are not being respected. Of particular concern is employment, with local people taken on allegedly well below the commitments previously made. Concerns are also being raised over the amounts spent from the promised Development Fund, contamination of the River Tumilaca and over the inadequacy of local purchases of food. 

Since the key demand being made is the withdrawal of the construction licence, there are clear echoes here of Tía María (where the license has been suspended). The conclusion, and the apprehension in mining circles, is that this is a case of contagion. This has indeed been an element, but the two projects are very different and demand different responses.

In Moquegua, a relatively urbanised region, there has been broad support for the project, and the 2012 Dialogue Table was relatively well-handled. The small group of 'anti-mining' protesters was eventually marginalised from the discussions. The company also gave the discussions significant periods of time, as is needed in such situations. See Dialogue and Human Rights in the Mining Sector: Learning from Peru 2019, written and published by the PSG.

On Monday 19 August, the monitoring committee set up to oversee compliance with the commitments made in the Dialogue Table will meet to consider the reasons for disquiet, and in particular the claims and counter-claims by the strikers and the company with regard to employment.

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