Blockages of the southern mining corridor began again on 27 January. This was in protest at lack of progress over the damage caused by the transport of minerals from Las Bambas to port.
Also continuing is a dispute with Glencore over the Coroccohuayco project. Communities are demanding revision of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) so that they are classified as living within the zone of direct environmental influence of Glencore’s new project.
The protests led to the declaration on 8 February of a state of emergency for 30 days along the road Apurímac-Cuzco-Arequipa.
However, some progress appears to be being made over finding a permanent solution to the vexed issue of the Las Bambas road.
Paola Bustamante, appointed last October as supremo for promoting dialogue along the southern corridor, has been working hard, together with the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC), in trying to resume dialogue.
The main solution proposed for the road is to asphalt it. This is seen as requiring the purchase of land up to 15 metres either side to prevent interference. This, in turn, raises the issue of paying for the land.
Some progress seems to have been made on this. There is a list of 1,266 landholders affected, but they must all prove ownership either with a certificate of possession provided by the community president or (where the land is not communal) with a certificate from the regional government’s department of agriculture. It is agreed that the payment will cover any improvements made to the land.
Even temporary asphalting can only take place once these land purchases are complete. It is expected that the land purchases may take until December 2020. Temporary asphalting would then take until June 2021. Bustamante has stated that there is to be no expropriation; land will be purchased.
The Dialogue Table for Cotabambas and Progreso has now received government assurances that temporary asphalting of the road is to occur, while administrative preparations are made for permanent asphalting.
Further, the EIA is to be revised. The various working groups of the Dialogue Table are meeting and making some progress. A key element is the development of indicators to follow up on promises made by the company.
But all is made far more complicated by the fact that the government can manage the process of improving the road more easily if it is declared a ‘national highway’. This has prompted strong protest in the past from some communities which lose revenue as a result. The communities also object to the lack of consultation.