Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Indigenous Groups to Weigh in on Mining Projects

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The Peruvian government announced Thursday that it will meet with Indigenous communities early next year to discuss Peru’s natural resource extraction projects. The meetings, scheduled between February and March 2013, mark the first time the Peruvian government will consult with indigenous communities about controversial projects like Lot 1AB in the northeastern Amazonian region of Loreto. The site is owned and operated by the Argentine company Pluspetrol, whose contract expires in 2015.

Indigenous community leaders of Pastaza, Corrientes, Tigre and Marañón in the jungle region of Loreto have denounced the government and have reported pollution problems as a result of drilling operations that are located near their communities. David Chino, the vice president of the Quechua Indigenous Federation of Pastaza, said that “the government has ignored us and has not obliged the companies to comply with their commitments.”

A report issued in July by a congressional working group that visited the region concluded that the toxicity level at Lot 1AB is so high “that the use of bioremediation to break down the oil would be useless.” The congressional working group’s report identifies the corrosion of the pipelines used to transport the oil as the main cause for the spills.

However, representatives of Pluspetrol claim that the contamination was caused by acts of vandalism. The claims are currently under legal investigation.

“We think it is good that they will hold a consultation,” said Achuar Indigenous leader Andrés Santi, president of the Federation of Native Communities of Corrientes. “But how can they repair all of the damage they have done to us in the last 40 years in just a short time?”

Peru is implementing consultations with Indigenous groups in compliance with the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which governs projects in ancestral Indigenous territories.

Tags: mining conflict, Peru, pollution
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