After many delays, the process of dialogue starts in Apurímac in the coming week between MMG, the Chinese company that owns Las Bambas, regional and local officials and local community leaders. There are four working groups: environment, human rights, sustainable development and social responsibility. The first two will meet on Monday and Tuesday, 21-22 March.

The NGO Cooperacción is supporting the process and in particular the participation of community leaders. A spokeswoman from Cooperacción listed for us what the NGO sees as the agenda for discussion from the point of view of the local community.

  • The environment workshop needs to review the EIA – the environmental impact assessment – and the modifications to it which the communities complain have never been explained or justified. There is a pressing need for the local populace to understand the impact of the mine and the adequacy (or otherwise) of the measures to ensure that the impacts are acceptable, technically, socially and environmentally.
  • At the human rights workshop, the need is to achieve agreement on reparations to the families of those who died or suffered injury in last year’s disturbances. There needs to be proper consideration of the healthcare provisions for those affected.
  • Later sessions will take up the difficult issue of sustainable development in the short, medium and long term. Plans need to be based on proper participation and consensual decision-making, and be rooted in a vision of the future for the province as a whole.
  • ‘Social responsibility’ is a matter of the company understanding its role beyond simply the payment of taxes and royalties. It has an entrepreneurial role in the community but one rooted more in even relations of engagement than has been the case in most mining developments in the past

Chinese mining companies have been showing an interest in learning how to operate in the Peruvian context: these discussions could therefore have an importance that goes well beyond the confines of Apurímac.