Peru: Newmont Mining to abandon Conga project?

In an interview with Dow Jones last week, Richard O'Brien, CEO of Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp. acknowledged that the conditions do not exist to move ahead with the $5 billion Conga gold and copper project in Cajamarca, Peru. O'Brien said there must be a "consistent environment that we would need for the successful conduct of both mining and all those things that go with mining, whether that is transporting people or equipment. Right now we don't see that environment in Conga. It will take a significant change to make that happen." (Fox Business News, Aug. 17) This week, a new 48-hour paro (civil strike) has been declared to oppose the Conga project in Cajamarca region, much of which remains under a state of emergency. To kick off the strike Aug. 22, hundreds of campesinos marched in the province of Bambamarca, in defiance of a ban on public protests. The marchers were mostly ronderos (members of the self-defense patrol) the outlying village of El Tambo, which is within the impact zone of the proposed mine. The campesinos held a gathering at Laguna Namococha, one of the highland lakes that would be degraded by the project. (La Republica, Aug. 22)

More steps backwards for Conga project

Prime Minister Juan Jimenez said Aug. 23 that the Conga gold project is on the "back burner" due to continued unrest in Cajamarca.

The comments follow the release of a poll finding that much of Cajamarca's population  opposes the project. Pollster Ipsos Apoyo said that 78% of the region's population oppose the project, while only 15% support it.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a report Aug. 23: "We think there is a high probability the project is canceled due to its low approval rate in the region." (MarketWatch, Aug. 23)