Last update:
2017-07-12

Gold Fields' Cerro Corona gold mine, Peru

Gold Fields' most profitable mine worldwide demobilizes people through huge Corporate Social Responsability investments but leaves behind pollution and impoverishment


Description:

The South African mining firm Gold Fields bought this mine in Hualgayoc (district), Cajamarca (region) in 2003. The state approved the company's environmental impact assessment in December 2005, and the company began constructing its Cerro Corona mine, directly on the former mine, the following months. The Peruvian ombudsperson first reports about local concerns regarding water pollution and scarcity in 2006. The area is known to have more than 900 registered environmental hazards, including dozens of ponds polluted with heavy metals. Company officials claim this is related to centuries of mining in the area, but several large-scale, cyanide and mercury-intensive mining operations in recent decades are mainly responsible.   There have been at least three strikes and demonstrations aimed at the company since 2006, but no property damage has been registered, nor has any police violence against demonstrators. On one occasion, a company representative was detained by authorities from the local Rondas Campesinas, but these groups are legally empowered to detain suspects temporarily, so whether this is framed as a kidnapping or not is a matter of debate.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gold Fields' Cerro Corona gold mine, Peru
Country:Peru
State or province:Cajamarca
Location of conflict:Hualgayoc
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Copper
Land
Gold
Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

In 2012, Cerro Corona was Gold Fields' most profitable mine worldwide. By Dec. 2012, the operation had mined 14,006 kilotons of earth.

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Project area:1,264
Level of Investment:$171 million (US) by Dec. 2012
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:at least 15,000 people
Start of the conflict:10/04/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Gold Fields South Africa (GFSA) from South Africa
Minera Gold Fields La Cima S.A.A. from South Africa
Relevant government actors:Municipalidad Distrital de Chugur, Gobierno Regional de Cajamarca, Municipalidad Distrital/Provincial de Hualgayoc, Defensoría del Pueblo
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comité Interprovincial de Rondas Campesinas, Central Única Provincial de Rondas Campesinas de Hualgayoc, Frente de Defensa Provincial de Hualgayoc, Comunidad Campesina El Tingo, Comunidad Campesina El Tingo, Centro Poblado Coimolache, Centro Poblado Morán, and 40 neighborhoods, Grupo de Formación e Intervención para el Desarrollo Sostenible (GRUFIDES).
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Women
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Mine tailing spills
Other Environmental impactsExplosions at the mine might cause hydraulic damage to the earth, in addition to damage to local homes.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Potential: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Corruption
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Fostering a culture of peace
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Few at all. Environmental organizations and activists mentioned ecotourism, agriculture, and fishing as possibilities, but not as proposals.
Although complaints about the environmental, social, and economic effects of mining are widespread in the communities near the mine, it appears that most people are resigned to living in what is now a mining-intense region.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The movements appear largely demobilized and fragmented by the company's efforts at corporate social responsibility and public relations.
Sources and Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

GRUFIDES Case Summary (last updated in 2015)
[click to view]

Bloomberg. 2009. “Gold Fields Halts Peru Exploration Project on Protest,” September 18.
[click to view]

Cerro Corona Annual Report, Dec. 2012 (Gold Fields Limited)
[click to view]

Other documents

Gold Fields Cerro Corona (Photo by Michael Wilson Becerril, 2016)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Michael Wilson Becerril, University of California, Santa Cruz, [email protected], https://ucsc.academia.edu/MichaelWilson
Last update12/07/2017
Comments
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