McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America

Pierina, Peru

Key Data

Company:Barrick Gold Operational status:production since 1998, intended to end in 2014 Materials extracted:gold Type of mine:open pit Main issues:water, community relations, labour


In 2002, a conflict began between the people of Huaraz and the mining company Barrick Gold over the Pierina mining project because of concerns about water use and lack of consultation of the community[1].  According to Barrick Gold, the Pierina project is “is creating long lasting benefits for its employees and contractors, and for the communities in which it operates” [2].  The project was even cited in a Government of Australia report on mining and sustainable community relations[3]. However, significant problems with Barrick and the people of Huaraz have emerged. In addition to the environmental concerns, a conflict has arisen over the $140 million in taxes which Barrick was exempted from paying by members of the Peruvian Ministry of Finance and the Economy [4]. Conflicts have also emerged over unfair labour practices associated with the mine. The widespread mobilisation against the project began in 2006.

In May 2006, community residents went on strike because of their dissatisfaction with the low wages they were receiving under Barrick’s rotational and part time work scheme (a scheme which was seen as a key part of Barrick’s community sustainability program) [5]. The strike and the blockade began on the 4th of May after talks between the company and area residents broke down. The blockade sparked violence between the strikers and security forces, prompting a police crackdown in which protesters were fired upon using live ammunition, killing two[6]. After the killings, Barrick agreed to negotiate and a memorandum of agreement was signed. Following the 2006 protests, workers attempted to form a union but were prohibited by the Ministry of Labour, despite having the right to do so under Peruvian law[7]. The memorandum of agreement with Barrick has been systematically violated as well, with the company firing unionised workers and hiring replacements from outside the community [8].

Today, the community continues to call for Barrick to respect the 2006 memorandum and to stop its anti-union practices. The $140 million in taxes which Barrick Gold owes the Peruvian state in regards to its Pierina project have yet to be paid back or compensation given to the people of Huaraz for lost revenue.

[1] Pierina: engaños, contaminación y destrucción. OCMAL. 6th of October, 2010. 22nd of January, 2012. http://www.olca.cl/ocmal/ds_conf.php?nota=Conflicto&p_busca=27

[2] Pierina Mine Responsibility Report. Barrick Gold. 22nd of January, 2012. http://www.barrick.com/Theme/Barrick/files/docs_performance/PerfReport_03_Pierina.pdf

[3] A Guide to Leading Practice Sustainable Development in Mining. Government of Australia: Department of Energy, Resources and Tourism. July 2011. 22nd of January, 2012. http://www.ret.gov.au/resources/Documents/LPSDP/guideLPSD.pdf

[4] Congreso investiga al MEF por caso Barrick. La Republica. 23rd of March, 2005. 22nd of January, 2012. http://www.larepublica.pe/23-03-2005/congreso-investiga-al-mef-por-caso-barrick

[5] Himley, Matthew. Global Mining and the Uneasy Neoliberalism of Sustainable Development. Sustainability. 18th of October, 2010. 22nd of January, 2012. www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/2/10/3270/pdf

[6] Campesinos que trabajan en la Minera Barrick denuncian prácticas antisindicales. Primera Página. 24th of June, 2008. 22nd of January, 2012. http://www.primerapaginaperu.com/article/actualidad/mineria/6/

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.