Miners call another strike for new formalisation process

24 February 2014

Miners have announced a national strike and protest from 17 March against the formalisation process required for their activities.

The four main unions of informal miners will down tools indefinitely and demonstrate in Lima. They are demanding changes to regulations, government buying of gold, and a halt to the criminalisation of their activites, which has seen large quantities of machinery blown up by enforcement agencies.

The enormous negative impact on the environment of illegal gold extraction from rivers led to the implementation of the ‘One-stop Shops’ (Ventanillas Únicas) initiative by the Peruvian government last October, intended to simplify the process of formalising illegal mining operations. However, according to the High Commissioner for the Formalisation of Illegal Mining, Daniel Urresti, only 10,000 informal mines will be registered by 19 April this year – just one in seven of those that have entered the process.

The Director General in charge of mine formalisation within the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), José Manuel Pando, has further stated that as yet, only 690 additional applicants have submitted the form to process the Remedial Environmental Management Instrument (Instrumento de Gestión Ambiental Correctivo), which is the penultimate step towards formalisation.

Notably, according to the MEM, of 70,000 unregistered miners who have indicated an interest in formalisation, only 30,000 are the legal owners of the concession or have come to an agreement with the title holders.

Human Rights Ombudsman, Eduardo Vega, has demanded an intensification of efforts to eradicate illegal mines, calling on regional governments to take the lead in advancing the process, and more collaboration among miners. Vega also noted that it is the role of the High Commissioner “to promote coordination between relevant state agencies in this process”.

Vega hopes that the implementation of the One-stop Shops scheme in the regions of Madre de Dios, Puno, Cusco, Abancay, and La Libertad will permit the streamlining of the formalisation process in 2014.

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