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1/12/09

Monterrico Metals and the Majaz Torture: At long last the Peru gov't reacts


On Saturday IKN ran this story that includes the full translation of what happened in the Majaz (now named Rio Blanco) mining camp concession run by Monterrico Metals. Included is the photographic evidence that shows without a shadow of a doubt the three days of torture suffered by locals in the company's mining camp, something that Monterrico (MDA.L) has tried to cover up for the last three years.

Today, at long last, we get some reaction from the government of Peru. This is what Prime Minister Yehude Simon said just a few minutes ago (via Ottotrans™):

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I am horrified by what I have seen. Of course this is something I didn't know about, and nobody can be permitted to torture anybody. As the (Peruvian) State, we cannot permit that anybody abuses anyone else. The police force, companies, workers or anybody else cannot use force to impose their ideas or impose what one thinks."

"I deplore this as a Peruvian, I deplore this as a person and it seems to us that force doesn't make anybody right. What I say is that those that have done this have comiited a big mistake, they have violated human rights and have left their victims a terrible image of themselves and of their institutions.
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So, what happens now? Simon has ordered a report on the events, so at the very least there are some official wheels turning. Whether or not the whole thing gets buried under the putrid mass of this government remains to be seen. Personally speaking, I think it's about time that Monterrico Metals made themselves heard on the issue else the company's silence may become deafening.

One piece of good news; the story is now top headline in Peru's most serious daily, El Comercio.


UPDATE: Reuters has managed to get a quote out of Monterrico Metals, but it's pretty disappointing and makes no reference to the torture the company carried out at the mining camp. Here's the Reuters Lima story that concentrates on the totally obvious fact that the project will be delayed. What it doesn't say is that there's no chance the project will be built in my lifetime. But you can't expect a company with the track record of Monterrico to be honest.

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LIMA, Jan 12 (Reuters) - A unit of China's Zijin said on Monday it is reevaluating the timetable for developing its Rio Blanco copper project in Peru after tumbling prices and protests.

Monterrico Metals (MNA.L), which is controlled by China's second-largest gold miner, Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd (2899.HK), previously said it would start production in 2011.

But like many global miners, hit by the collapse in commodity prices and a tough financing environment, it is reevaluating its plans.

"Essentially that's under review and a revised chronogram for investment and development will be published in due course -- fairly shortly. I suggest this quarter," said Andrew Bristow, investor relations manager at Monterrico.

The $1.4 billion copper-molybdenum project, which is located in the northern district of Piura, is expected to produce some 200,000 tonnes of copper concentrate a year.

Many community members near Rio Blanco oppose the project. They worry the mine will wreck the environment and damage agricultural lands.

In a 2007 popular vote, nearby communities overwhelmingly said they did not want Rio Blanco developed. (Reporting by Dana Ford; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

UPDATE 2: More important testimony at this link, translated by Lillie at Memory in Latin America. Good job Lillie.