Rio Blanco Mine Majaz/Rio Blanco Copper S. A., Peru

A copper mine in Piura, owned by British and later Chinese firms. Court case in London, and local successful referendum in 2007 against the project.


In 2001 Minera Majaz S. A., a subsidiary of the English company Monterrico Metals, obtained eight concessions in the North of Peru, including the 6,472 hectares Rio Blanco mine for the exploitation of copper and molybdenum.

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Basic Data
NameRio Blanco Mine Majaz/Rio Blanco Copper S. A., Peru
ProvincePiura and Cajamarca
SiteHuancabamba, Ayabaca / San Ignacio
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
Specific CommoditiesMolybdenum
Rare metals
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe project extends over more than 6.000 hectars. At planned production rates, Rio Blanco would be amongst the 20 largest copper mines in the world, producing on average of 191,000 tonnes of copper per annum and 2,180 tonnes of molybdenum per annum during the first five years.

On 27 April 2007, a Chinese consortium, Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Development Co. Ltd (the Zijin Consortium) acquired a majority shareholding (89.9%) of Monterrico.

Rio Blanco Copper S. A., which today officially owns the mine is itself owned by both the British Monterrico Metals and the Chinese Zijin Mining Group.

The project includes 25 km of new roads and electrical networks, as well as a port at Bayovar on the Pacific coast.
Project Area (in hectares)6,000
Level of Investment (in USD)1440000000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population25,000
Start Date2002
Company Names or State EnterprisesMajaz S.A. Mine from Peru
Monterrico Metals plc
Zijin Consortium (Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Investment Development) from China
Relevant government actorsMunicipality of Huacabamba - Peru, Municipality of Sndor - Peru, MEM - Peru, Ombudsman - Peru, PNP - Peru
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCONACAMI - Peru, FDSFNP - Peru, Rondas Campesinas, Farming Communities of Segunda and Cajas - Peru, Asociación de Mujeres Protectoras de los Páramos AMUPPA, Provincial Federation of peasant vigilantes of Huancabamba - Peru, Front for the Defence of Life and Environment of Huancabamba - Peru, CEPICAFE - Peru, Professors Association of Huancabamba - Peru, Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Perú (FDSFNP), Oxfam America
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNegotiated alternative solution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Project temporarily suspended
Withdrawal of company/investment
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesMore than 90 percent of farmers opposed the Majaz Rio Blanco project and asked the Government to respect their decision. The census was over 17,000 people in the districts of Ayabaca, Pacaipampa, and Carmen de la Frontera in Piura, they voted overwhelmingly September 16, 2007, to reject investment in the nearby Majaz copper mine of the Rio Blanco project.

July 28, 2011 Monterrico Metals Plc., a British company that owns Ro Blanco Copper S.A., previously known as Minera Majaz S.A., agreed to compensate 32 farmers tortured at the mining camp and the relatives of a farmer who died, both of which occurred between August 1 and 3, 2005.

The company agreed to compensate the farmers so that the plaintiffs would put an end to the lawsuit filed in June 2009 with the British High Court against Monterrico Metals Plc., in its capacity as parent company of Rio Blanco Copper S.A.

In 2012, a new lawsuit against the Peruvian Police for torture against peasants in the same 2005 case, has started.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.In 2012, Rio Blanco S.A. company was trying to start exploitation, while the Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Per FDSFNP, of municipalities, districts, communities and Rondas Campesinas and other organizations of the provinces of Huancabamba and Ayabaca (Piura) and provinces of San Ignacio and Jaen (Cajamarca)opposed the project. The Monterrico company was brought to court in London for tortures to local peasant, and had to pay for damages. A successful local referendum against the project took place.
Sources and Materials

ILO - OIT (International Labour Organisation) Convention 169


Hacia una Estimacion de los Efectos de la Actividad Minera en los Indices de Pobreza en el Peru. Torres C., Victor ; De Echave C., Jose. Ed. Cooperaccion 2005.

Rondas campesinas de mujeres, participacion social y politica, y problematica ambiental en Bambamarca. Chacon Raul. 2005

Mineria y Comunidades Testimonios Orales y Graficos. Cooperaccion. 2000.

INFORME DE CONFLICTOS MINEROS : los casos de Majaz, las Bambas, Tintaya y la Oroya. Cooperaccion 2006.

CONSULTA VECINAL SOBRE MINERIA EN LA SIERRA DE PIURA: CONTRA VIENTO Y MAREA, GANÓ LA DEMOCRACIA PARA EL BIEN DE TODOS , OLCA report 2007, with statistics on number of residents and voters in the local referendum
[click to view]


AMBIENTE-PERÚ: Estudio advierte daño causado por minera Majaz, M. Salazar, 9/10/2007
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Proyecto minero Río Blanco: una bomba de tiempo en la frontera norte, 31/08/2014
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Peruvian torture claimants compensated by UK mining company, 20/07/2011
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Abuse claims against Peru police guarding British firm Monterrico, I. Cobain, 18/10/2009
[click to view]

Resoluciones del encuentro de mujeres en resistencia a los proyectos mineros en Rio Blanco en Peru y Ecuador, 7/12/2014
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Caso Majaz: Absuelven a 107 personas acusadas falsamente de diversos delitos, 7/06/2012
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Secuestro, asesinato y tortura en el campamento del proyecto Majaz (ahora Río Blanco), 30/07/2005
[click to view]

Media Links

Majaz Proyecto Rio Blanco, youtube video
[click to view]

Other Documents

Police repression and torture of pacific farmers marching to the Rio Blanco mining Source: Fedepaz
[click to view]

Ecuadorian and Peruvian women's gathering in December 2014 opposing the Rio Blanco mine Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl & Joan Martinez Alier
Last update30/12/2015