Intervenor: vol. 26, no. 1, January - March 2001

Undermining Communities in Peru

Noranda, Cominco, Teck and Barrick are all common names in Canada's mining circles and they are increasingly common names in Peruvian mining circles, too. The Australian company, BHP, which opened Canada's first diamond mine, Ekati, in the Northwest Territories (NWT), is now one of Peru's biggest copper miners. A junior Canadian mining company, Manhattan Minerals, is trying to develop a mine in the centre of the Peruvian town of Tambogrande. The industry is increasingly international, the challenge communities face is increasingly international and importantly, there are growing international links among non-governmental organizations, as well.

For the last three years CELA has collaborated with the Environmental Mining Council of B.C. and CooperAcción, a Peruvian non-governmental organization, on mining issues. Using Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funds, we have developed materials on mining and sponsored workshops in communities affected by mining. We have organised exchange visits between the Innu of Labrador and the Association of Mining Communities of Peru. A representative from the Cusco area, the site of BHP's Tintaya mine, went to Yellowknife, NWT to meet with aboriginal organizations and local environmentalists to learn about their experience with BHP at the Ekati mine. CELA's present articling student, Karyn Keenan, spent seven months working with CooperAcción in Peru, on CELA's behalf, before beginning her articles.

In January, 2001, we received funding from CIDA for a third year of collaboration. This year's program of work will include five components:

  • Researching and developing workshop materials on ideas to better structure the community-company relationship on the ground. Materials will be prepared on the use and effectiveness of Impact Benefit Agreements by a number of Canadian aboriginal organizations. We will also look at the experience of the Independent Monitoring Group which was established to monitor the impacts from the operations of the Ekati Mine;
  • A national workshop in Cusco, Peru using the materials described above;
  • Publishing the project materials in English and Spanish online and in hard copy;
  • Organizing another exchange visit between Peruvian and Canadian community representatives; and
  • On-going research about Canadian mining companies' activities.

Through our participation in MiningWatch Canada and our direct collaboration with CooperAcción, CELA works actively to link up communities affected by mining so that they can learn from each other's experience in order to better pursue their interests.
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Ken Traynor is the Coordinator for the International Programme at CELA