La Oroya – DRP environmental report update

As a Fullbright scholar, Corey LaPlante studied the environmental impact of the La Oroya – Doe Run Peru (DRP) smelter over the past year or so. He published some summaries of his findings on his blog, including:

  • Research that shows contamination in La Oroya may actually have increased since Doe Run arrived in 1997.
  • Some regulatory background about Peru’s environmental management plan or PAMA. Excellent questions whether PAMA is really sufficient and whether Doe Run Peru has complied with its obligations.
  • Research on children’s blood-lead levels near La Oroya. Interesting finding how the improvements advocated by Doe Run correspond with testing further and further away from the smelter.

I think Corey did a great job studying the environmental impact as well as the social and economic drivers that keep enabling the situation at La Oroya. He kept his research free of inflammatory rhetoric or ideological influences which all too often skew the environmental debate.

Again, check out his findings here.

Work halted at La Oroya

Otto at Inca Kola News has some good analysis on the work stoppage at La Oroya today.

From Reuters:

“Doe Run Peru has halted work at its sprawling La Oroya smelter after banks cut credit lines for the company.”

Also read my previous post about money and La Oroya. It remains to be seen if Alan Garcia’s pro-mining government will step in. Personally, I’m with Otto on this: Ira Rennert took the money and ran.

Mining concessions in Peru

CORRECTION – see comments: Due to my mediocre Spanish I earlier stated mistakenly that the mayor of Acomayo granted mining concessions, it was in fact the government, and local authorities are protesting the developments. My apologies to the mayor of Acomayo.

Original post, corrected:

I just read here that the Peruvian government has granted significant concessions in the Acomayo area to the mining industry without proper consultations with the people of Acomayo.

Allow me to be perfectly selfish here: Acomayo is not too far from Accha, and if you mess with Accha, you’re messing with me. If this causes any trouble for Mama Vicky in Accha, I might just have to get involved in the opposition movement…

Sarcasm aside, I once read a column in “El Comercio” that said “Peru is a poor country because Peruvians act like poor people.” Peruvian authorities are typically eager to sell the country’s natural resources out for what they believe is a big sum of money. However, if the financial crisis proves anything, it’s that money is just funny printed paper. You can’t eat it, dance with it or teach it to sit and wag its tail.

Now mining is a necessary and honorable industry. Without it we would not have roads, infrastructure, hospitals, etc. But if Peru wants to improve its economy beyond the business districts of Lima, business and political leaders need to focus on applying the country’s fantastic human and natural resources to improve the quality of life for all Peruvians, instead of just looking for big payments of foreign cash.

I'll have my river without lead, please.

I'll have my river without lead, please.

NB: a good site for news about the impact of mining on Peruvian communities is Conacami Perú: Confederación Nacional de Comunidades del Perú Afectadas por la Minería

NB: I didn’t keep the column I referred to above, it was printed in El Comercio around the signing of the Hunt Oil project. If anyone happens to come across it, please let me know.

Mining and environmental protections in Peru

CNN recently featured the “La Oroya” case on its “Planet in Peril” series. Mining (“la mineria”) is quite controversial here in Peru, being one of the country’s largest industries but also one with a mixed environmental record. I’m seeing some local opposition to the environmental impact of mining, for example we noticed this sign on the way to Accha:

A roadside sign opposing mining near Sangarara, Peru.

A roadside sign opposing mining near Sangarara, Peru.

One thing I hope for is that when taxpayer money is soon handed out to the US auto industry there are strings attached in terms of environmental protection (the metals processed at “La Oroya” are used in industries such as auto manufacturing).