Gold Mining in Peru

by

By Randall Richards

Peru-Barrick Mine

Barrick's Pierina Gold Mine, Peru

I know relatively little about the issues that surround open pit gold mining, but my instincts tell me, aside from what I’ve read over the years, that it’s not a good thing, something similar to  nuclear testing – not the best for the planet,  nor the surrounding communities. There are certainly the headlines about gold mining, about toxic tailings and the havoc wreaked on local rivers and communities.  I debated whether to do more research before writing this post, and decided to simply point you in the direction of two websites, and tell an anecdote of my observations in Peru over the past 12 twelve years.

Peru-Barrack Mine Far

Barrick Mine viewed from our land near Huaraz

We’ve just purchased some land in Huaraz Peru, and within 10 or 15 miles, line of sight, to the north is the Canadian company Barrick Gold open pit gold mining operation. It just looks wrong. A whole mountain on the Corillera Negra side of the Cayllon de Huaylas (Huaylas Valley),  has been transformed into a mammoth sand pit/mound.  Aside from  the blight it produces, all natural grasslands and campasino’s (country farmers), pastures/farms have been eradicated.   I hear consistently that the Japanese are, or are about to run mines in the Cordillera Huayhuash, (scene of Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void).

Peru-Barrick Mine Settlement

Barrick's Planned Community - employee housing, Peru

On the east side of the valley, sits Barrick’s planned employee community. It’s relatively well hidden from the center of Huaraz, over a hill with newly planted pines.  But the whole thing seems abusive, elitist,  and completely out of place, in a country where there are stark differences between classes of the “haves and have nots”. This “suburb looking for a city”, looks like something outside of Toronto, or a development near Montreal, rather than a village in the Andes.

Then, there’s the taking of Peru’s natural resources, for the price paid from the highest bidder. If that’s what the goverments mean by “free trade”, they can have it. (As you may know, Peru and the U.S. have a “free trade” agreement as of a few years ago.) For more information on third world exploitation, be sure to read John PerkinsConfessions of an Economic Hit Man, or see his website, which also has a good bit on Free Trade with Columbia, which might shed some light on free trade agreements.  More on John Perkins in another entry.

As promised, here is the link for Barrick Mines and, one for Mining Watch Canada, with an interesting page entitled, Transnational Mining Tribunal: The Case of Barrick Gold Corporation in Latin America (Chile, Argentina and Peru). Barrick has multiple pages on “Environmental Responsibility, Biodiversity, Rock and waste management”, etc etc..  However, are we being hoodwinked?

For those up to speed on these issues, forgive my lack of knowledge on the subject, but take my observations at face value, especially if you’ve not been to Peru. If you agree with my take, please forward this blog to friends,  and get the word out about the abuse in Peru and other Latin American countries, its people and resources.

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8 Responses to “Gold Mining in Peru”

  1. John Perkins Says:

    Hi Randall

    Thank you for the link to my site and I’m glad you are out there fighting!

    best,
    John Perkins
    TwitterID – economic_hitman

    • mtnspirit Says:

      John,
      Thanks too for the reply. Your books will hopefully open many more eyes to the abusive nature of American consumerism and choices that have taken advantage of other countries and cultures. Has Confessions printed in Spanish yet?

  2. Politicians Will Not Change the World « Mountain Spirit Institute: Blog Says:

    […] Hit Man, which should be read by every citizen of the world – by Americans to see how our lifestyle impacts "third world" countries, and by those citizens in countries that have been taken advantage of by […]

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  4. Gold’s Glitter in Peru « Mountain Spirit Institute: Blog Says:

    […] see our earlier post on Barrack Mines in Huaraz, Peru. Share this:FacebookTwitterMoreRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to […]

  5. D Says:

    You don’t seem like the kind of person that forms their opinions based on incomplete information. Yet, the majority of the information you’ve posted to this blog is based on your emotional reaction to an operation that you have very little first hand information about. I’ve spent a lot of time in Huaraz, both enjoying the natural wonder of the Cordillera and the great people.

    Mining and resource extraction is a fact of life as long as we as consumers demand products that require them, such as the computer that you crated this blog on that has traces of virtually every mined resource, including gold.

    The “not in my backyard” attitude espoused by many so-called “environmentalists” seeks to preserve a resource in one location at the expense of extracting that same resource elsewhere. People seem to think that the stuff they want comes from some magical land, where the metals they rely upon for their daily lives flows from a fountain.

    The mining industry exists because of you, not because of mining companies. It is there to satisfy your demand for products. If you don’t know where the stuff you buy comes from and how it was created, it is your responsibility to educate yourself so that you do.

    The idea that mining in some place else to preserve your view, or to preserve your quaint idea of the environment, is somehow preferable to having a mine near your home is not only incredibly self-centered, it is destructive.

    I support mining near my “home” because I am aware of the processes that are involved in mining in a global economy and, more than anything, it is my responsibility to make sure that any mining that takes place is done with the highest of standards. I cannot “keep an eye” on what is happening if the mining is exported elsewhere because under-educated fear-mongering has driven the costs so high locally that miners go elsewhere to lower cost jurisdictions where the oversight is lax.

    Any human that lives on our planet needs to take an progressive attitude of responsibility towards their consumption. The products that you choose to consume should be created by companies that use resources that are extracted responsibly.

    If you really want to make a difference in Huaraz, take some time to educate yourself regarding the process of mining by multi-nationals, visit the mine, try to identify ways that the process can be improved in a responsible and sustainable way, and support politicians that avoid polarizing rhetoric, and focus on balancing the realistic needs of a growing human population with the need to preserve the planet for the future.

    That mine across the valley from you is yours. I suggest you understand what’s going on there and figure out how it can be done in a way that ensures that all of us have nice views. There is no reason that mining cannot be done in a way that is responsible. It takes an educated populace to understand that it is their choices and demand that drive the resource industry. Once you have a basic understanding of where the mined resources come from in the many products you consume and how they were extracted, then you have a starting point with which to start a rational conversation.

    • mtnspirit Says:

      Hi D,
      Not only do I appreciate your taking the time in respond my post “Gold Mining in Peru” but I also appreciate points you raise. I can relate to your comment about having a starting point for a rational conversation – well put. When I’m having a conversation with someone who hasn’t done the research, but is espousing, based on emotion rather than fact, which is, admittedly, what I’ve done here, I feel they’re blowing smoke rather than having educated themselves about the subject. I’ll do some homework. I hadn’t put myself into the equation, thanks for pointing that out. I don’t pretend to have much knowledge on the subject, but do think things need to change. The disconnect you mention has been my blind spot – I’m sure others are in the same boat.
      Nevertheless you’ll have to admit things are unsustainable, environmentally and economically for such operations to continue as they do into the future. Using this computer with mined materials certainly poses a bind. I’ll be pondering hard on this, and maybe it’s indeed time to get onto that farm, and make a difference by consuming less in my own life, (see the movie End of Suburbia, Escape from Suburbia and others)
      You sound well versed not only on the mine in Huaraz but the subject in general.
      I’ll respond more in full, when not so blurry eyed, but thought I’d get a quick response off to you for now.
      Thanks again,
      R. Richards

  6. Courtney Says:

    Hi there! I heard rumors that this mine was going to close in 2012. Any chance you have any updated information on whether or not that’s true? Are you still in the area or know anyone who is? Thanks so much!

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