The conflict between the four companies who own the Antamina consortium that run the mine and the local people of San Marcos began in the Ancash region of Peru in 2005 during the mine’s construction phase [ii]. The conflict has been fueled by the local communities’ concerns over water contamination, lack of consultation and violence against protesters. The conflict escalated in September of 2007 when cases of water contamination were alleged[iii]. These cases were later confirmed two months later when the Supervising Agency for Investment in Energy and Mining (Osinergmin) and the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for Crime Prevention and Environmental Matters for the province of Huaraz released a report confirming the presence of heavy metals in the nearby Carash river due to mining activities. This report came two months after a DIGESA report (the Environmental Health Directorate) which affirmed dangerously high levels of lead, zinc and copper in the local water supply[iv]. These reports served to confirm health concerns about the water that had been circulating since studies taken in 2006 by the Center for Occupational and Environmental Protection for Health (CENOPAS) on the level of heavy medals in the blood of local residents[v]. The company has so far questioned the methodology of both the 2006 and 2009 studies[vi].
The revelations of the 2009 studies lead to a new round of protests. On the 3rd of September one of the protests was met with a police crackdown that left 2 people seriously wounded[vii]. On the 23rd of January, 2010 the Antamina project came under criticism for allegedly “compensating” local officials to facilitate the mine’s construction[viii]. The project was under criticism again in November of 2010 when a series of toxic chemical spills reaffirmed claims that the mine’s operation poses a serious health risk to the local communities[ix].
[iv] Antamina contaminó los ríos Juprog y Carash. No a la Mina. 8th of September, 2009. http://www.noalamina.org/mineria-latinoamerica/mineria-peru/antamina-contamino-los-rios-juprog-y-carash
[v] Comunidad de Juprog denuncia contaminación minera por parte de la empresa Antamina. OCMAL. 20th of May, 2010. http://www.olca.cl/ocmal/ds_conf.php?nota=Conflicto&p_busca=164
[vii] Desalojo violento en Antamina. La Republica. 3rd of September, 2009. http://www.larepublica.pe/03-09-2009/desalojo-violento-en-antamina-0
[viii] Antamina en aguas peligrosas. La Republica. 23rd of January, 2010. http://www.larepublica.pe/columnistas/cristal-de-mira/antamina-en-aguas-peligrosas-23-01-2010
[ix] Diez accidentes con derrames de tóxicos. No a la Mina. 29th of November, 2010. http://www.noalamina.org/mineria-latinoamerica/mineria-peru/diez-accidentes-con-derrames-de-toxicos