By Miguel Cardozo, president of Rumbo a PERUMIN
The spread of social unrest, besides being a major obstacle to the economic recovery process, is leading to extreme situations that are damaging our country’s image. It is outrageous that the Cuajone mine, after having operated for over 51 years (since 1970) in the district of Torata, Moquegua, had to consider closing after 60 days of being unable to operate due to the blockade and destruction of its railway and the invasion of its reservoir in Viña Blanca. There the Indigenous community cut off the water supply to the mining camp, a place where more than 5000 people—including workers and their families— live. It was only after two months that the government declared a state of emergency in the area.
The situation is also critical in Las Bambas mine, whose operations have been suspended for the second time in less than a year. This is due to an invasion of the mine’s property by 130 people from the community of Fuerabamba, Apurímac.
It is concerning to see the lack of attention paid by the authorities when managing the over 200 conflicts the country currently faces, particularly the permissiveness and inaction shown before the aggressions and constant violations of the rule of law by violent groups that attack the mining companies and their workers. The State is responsible for guaranteeing the safety of all Peruvians and for maintaining internal order; yet we are projecting the image of a country that cannot guarantee the sustainability of a productive activity such as mining, in spite of how fundamental it is for the country’s development and people’s well-being.
The country needs investments to provide Peruvians with the jobs they need, but we are not creating the right conditions for this. According to the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, private investment is expected to grow 0% in 2022. BBVA Research, on the other hand, projects a drop of more than 9%.
In the case of mining, it has been constantly highlighted that we have a portfolio of investments of over $56 billion. Nevertheless, there are no plans or concrete actions to facilitate the commissioning of mining projects, although such projects would allow for Peru’s much needed economic growth and a reduction of poverty rates to 15%, based on a study conducted by the Center for Competitiveness and Development (CCD) and presented at Rumbo a PERUMIN.
To be competitive and encourage investments, we must guarantee the sustainability of our productive activities. To do so, we need to have leadership in the State, as well as technical and political capacity to address social issues. We also need to have real insight into the country’s situation, and we need to work to highlight the value of our great potentialities. Mining is one of them.