With the extension of the period of lockdown, attention has been drawn this week to the plight of mineworkers caught in the at-least-partial shutdown of mines who are unable to return to their homes. The government has as a result modified its original decree to state that, as an exception, mine workers may move between work and home.
This has provoked a reiteration of the concern expressed by José De Echave, former vice-minister of the environment and first director and founder member of Cooperacción, that the movement from an urban place of residence to a remote mine is a perfect conduit for infection. Cooperacción is lobbying for a tougher and more explicit form of the decree, making full testing for Cofid-19 mandatory before anyone moves between mine and home (or vice-versa).
Meanwhile, contagion is evident but not (yet) extreme in the mining encampments. In addition to one case each at Cerro Verde and Tinka Resources (in Cuzco), Antamina has been hit by seven cases in its encampment and has shut down its operations for the next two weeks. We have no information on any possible spread beyond the mine. Red Muqui, a federation of 29 NGOs and grassroots groups, has been lobbying for fuller and clearer information from the companies.
A further curious development is the decision of management at the Las Bambas mine, majority-owned by a Chinese state-owned company, to provide 5,000 baskets of food to families, working through the presidents of communities in their area of influence. An attempt to buy off opposition?