The huge copper enterprise in Espinar now comprises Tintaya, Antapaccay and Coroccohuayco. Owned by Glencore, it has had a bad history in terms of environmental impacts and the resulting conflicts.

The history here has been bedevilled by a lack of clear documentation of base lines and the complex data needed to distinguish between natural contamination (from the geology of the rock) and the impact of mining itself.

So, as the company moves to secure the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the extension of its operations to Coroccohuayco, one would expect great care to be taken in securing a sound evaluation of the environmental impact and in winning community consent. Instead, the process seems mired, yet again, in poor transparency, bad communications, and lack of credibility.

Two workshops held on 17 and 18 October were poorly attended. The website of the Mining Ministry (MINEM) fails to give access to the document supposedly under discussion, and reveals only a letter from the Servicio Nacional de Certificación Ambiental (Senace) that releases the company from the obligation to consult over the setting up of a base line: precisely one of the most sensitive points.

There are community fears that population may need to be displaced, and here we are talking of indigenous communities registered as such in the database of the Ministry of Culture. Such recognition is important as it entitles them by law to a full prior consultation (consulta previa). The Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros, a valuable watchdog, is rightly concerned that the situation can only escalate.