Newmont under fire, again
22 March 2015
An American judge, Robert E Blackburn, has taken the unusual step of ordering Newmont, the giant US mining company, to supply photographs, videos and other information on communications between the company and the police in Cajamarca. Newmont is the majority shareholder in Yanacocha, the controversial gold mining company in Cajamarca that had sought to open up the massive new Conga gold project in the province of Celendín in Cajamarca.
The project has been the focus of bitter protest in Cajamarca. In 2011, 25 protesters were wounded in a confrontation with the local police. Among them was Elmer Campos Alvarez, who was rendered paraplegic by two projectiles were fired at him by police.
Last year, EarthRights International, an environmental pressure group, appealed to the Colorado Federal Court to intervene in the case. The plaintiffs allege that Yanacocha hired the police to disperse the protesters. Newmont will now have to hand over the material it possesses. The case was brought under the Foreign Legal Assistance statute.
Last July, with the help of EarthRights International, a group of prominent non-governmental rights organisations filed an ‘amicus curiae’ (friend of the court) suit in Peru’s Constitutional Court in support of a legal challenge brought by Grufides, a Cajamarca-based NGO, against the Conga project. The case argues that Conga represents a violation of people’s constitutional right to enjoy a healthy environment.