LIMA Nov 22 Peru's government said on Tuesday
the environmental impact plan for Newmont Mining's $4.8
billion Conga gold project was basically sound, seeking to
reassure neighbors that the proposed mine would not pollute
their water supplies.
The mine would be the biggest investment in the history of
Peruvian mining and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in
tax revenue. For weeks, the government has been trying to calm
a dispute over the planned mine, which would replace a string
of alpine lakes with reservoirs to provide farmers with water.
President Ollanta Humala has come out in favor of the
project, saying the mine would generate thousands of jobs and
accusing local political leaders of fomenting opposition for
Local officials and residents in the Andean region of
Cajamarca plan to hold a one-day strike on Thursday against the
Conga project, and Humala's team will lead two-rounds of
negotiations with local leaders on Wednesday and Thursday to
try to broker a truce.
"The executive branch has looked at the issue ... and our
view is that the plan doesn't have any major problems," Mines
and Energy Minister Carlos Herrera told reporters.
"The environmental issue, like any other, can always be
improved, but we haven't found any negative surprsies."
Newmont says its environmental plan was exhaustively
researched and rigorously adhered to high environmental
"The arguments by the communities are basically a result of
mistrust. There is nobody who can tell me the data are wrong or
say they have been miscalculated," Herrera said.
Humala's government has tried to defuse the dispute by
offering local communities a "social fund" that would make sure
they get better access to infrastructure and social services.
Herrera also said the government would offer "guarantees"
that the mine would not hurt the environment.
Humala, a leftist former military officer who took office
in July, campaigned on promsies to end hundreds of disputes
over natural resources that threaten to hold up billions of
dollars in private investment.