That the cost of oversight of environmentally-sensitive operations of mining companies is a reasonable charge on companies in the sector commands widespread acceptance among those involved. But the level of the tax to fund it is anything but agreed.

Introduced in 2000 and established at 1% of annual earnings after tax, the rate was reduced in December last year to 0.15%, falling to 0.13% by 2016. But even this still arouses indignation among firms. The general manager of Yanacocha reports that no less than 26 companies have brought legal actions against the charge. The government’s view is that it needs to finance not only the specific costs of monitoring a particular activity, but also the wider infrastructure that is needed for environmental control.

The former environment vice-minister, José de Echave, warns that “companies are getting bolder and bolder” in the present context of efforts to reduce obstacles to investment (see