As the global economy continues to struggle and its neighboring countries have lessened regulations on mining, Peru’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, Jorge Merino Tafur, warned that the global economic crisis requires more than ever for Peru to promote investment in the energy and mining sectors or lose mining and energy projects to neighboring countries.
“Today more than ever, countries competing with Peru, like Chile and Columbia, are creating better conditions for investment to go to these countries,” he said. “We must close ranks to develop investments in our country and not to leave.”
Recent anti-mining protests have created a poor image for some investors. However, Peru has approved mining projects worth $28 billion, Merino Tafur noted. Some 75 percent of private investment in the country goes into the mining industry he told Radio Programs del Peru.
Based on recent surveys, more than 70 percent of Peru’s population believes they must continue mining investment, and most have expressed their approval for Newmont’s Conga project with some improvements, the minister said. But the public “also understands that we are a country that is competing in the world.”
Merino Tafur said that in regions of violent protests over mining, such as the Cajamarca Region and the Espinar Province, the government remains open to dialog with elected officials, communities and government to enable the development of regions and fight poverty. “We should not see a dichotomy between the environmental and investment,” he said.
Merion Tafur said the government will get more involved in prevention of anti-mining conflicts and to help build confidence among the people in communities impacted by mining development.
Earlier this month, two people were killed and dozens injured in protests in Espinar against the expansion of the Tintaya copper mine owned by Xstrata, which has been accused of contaminating local water supplies and sickening farm animals.
Peru's Environmental Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal said he plans to meet with Espinar Mayor Oscar Mollohuanca and leaders of grassroots anti-mining organizations on June 21 to try to end the conflict.