Work at the stalled Conga project in Peru could resume after Newmont Mining Corp. announced that it had accepted a stricter environmental mitigation plan for the $4.8 billion Conga gold mine, the largest mining project ever proposed in Peru.
Protests by community groups who said the project could hurt local water supplies and create pollution have halted the project since November. Newmont said that before the mine is built it will first build reservoirs that will guarantee year-round water supplies in towns that currently suffer shortages. In an attempt to quell protests, the government had hired outside experts to recommend improvements to the company’s own environmental impact plan, Reuters reported.
President Ollanta Humala said that Newmont had “finally identified” with the recommended changes that urged the company to build larger reservoirs that would replace two or more in a string of alpine lakes.
“We have ratified our decision to implement the recommendations international auditors made to the environmental impact study for the Conga project,” Newmont's head of South America, Carlos Santa Cruz, said in a statement.
“We share the government’s call for dialogue, for the vast majority of civil society in Peru,” Santa Cruz said in reference to local political leaders in the northern Andean region of Cajamarca who are leading protests to halt the mine.
Conga, which is partly owned by local miner Buenaventura , would produce between 18 and 21 t/a (580,000 and 680,000 oz/year) of gold.