Friday 7th May, in the central Plaza de Armas, Cajamarca, communities and social organizations, including the Frente de Defensa Ambiental de Colpayoc, convened a press conference denouncing and rejecting the gold mining project Colpayoc, owned by the Canadian mining company Estrella Gold S.A.C that is being pushed forward in the province of Chetilla. Community leaders and environmental defenders from across the province claim they are not being included or heard in the process, and will take to the streets to defend their territories.
Protest December 2022 against the Colpayoc mining project. “Chetillanos rechazan proyecto minero”. Copyright: CONACIPE
The province of Chetilla is the one of the last remaining areas of indigenous quechua speakers in the region of Cajamarca, and is also the poorest province. According to the mining companies own assessment of the project, around 83% of the population within the area of impact earn less than 300/S (around 75 euros) a month. In addition, 33% of the population have not finished primary school, and 13% are illiterate. Clearly, this is a community that is extremely vulnerable to exploitation by mining companies and the state apparatus, promising jobs and economic development, as long as they sacrifice their right to clean drinking water for their children and animals on which they depend.
Een delegatie van JASS (Service and Sanitation Management Board) Ronquillo protesteert tegen Colpayoc, Persconferentie op Plaza De Armas, Cajamarca 7 mei 2023. Bron: CATAPA
The impact of Colpayoc could be catastrophic for the communities not only located in the immediate vicinity of the mine, but also those living nearby. 30% of the city of Cajamarca, some 150,000 citizens, depend on rivers originating within the Crisnejas and Jequetepeque river basins for clean drinking water.
Just recently in May, 27 people died in a gold mine fire in Arequipa. Gold mining also accounts for 38% of all global emissions of mercury, which causes debilitating long term illnesses amongst mine workers and local populations living within the vicinity.
Photo of the La Esperanza gold mine, Arequipa, Peru where 27 miners died in a fire this May 2023. Source: AFP
CATAPA supports the Right to Say No of the communities of Colpayoc. To solve the climate crisis, we must search for and implement just solutions that work in harmony with people and planet. We cannot continue sacrificing our right to water and breathable air for the profits of a few multinational mining companies that are intent on extracting maximum profits at all costs whilst destroying our communities and ways of life.