Extractives and conflicts in Peru. Mining industry.

Extractives and conflicts in Peru. The mining industry is undergoing an unprecedented expansion phase in the world, which, despite some intervals, has been going on for almost twenty years. Over the past decade alone, investment in the mining industry has increased by 800%, and prices for base metals have tripled. There are various ways to measure this extension. In addition to the productive dimension and investment flows, there is also a territorial dimension that is important to take into account. Various ecosystems currently appear to be seriously threatened by increased production.

In Latin America, this is especially true for Andean mountain lagoon systems, water sources, the Amazon and glaciers. This situation has sparked a lively discussion about the need to protect certain ecosystems. Many initiatives have been proposed, such as the recent Argentina Glacier Protection Act, actions to preserve the Yasuni Park Biosphere Reserve in the Ecuadorian Amazon region, or to ban gold mining in Costa Rica … An increasing number of social conflicts related to mining is another global trend. Minerals: A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reports that 40% of global conflicts are caused by the exploitation of natural resources. natural resources, especially the extraction of minerals and hydrocarbons.

Social and environmental safeguards. Almost everywhere, the axis of social conflict facing the mining industry over the course of two decades has become typical problems related to labor, environmental problems and social uprisings near mining sites. The main trends in business activity, as well as government policies regarding the mining sector, are mainly determined at the global level. Considering investment flows in surveys, Latin America has been a major global beneficiary region for more than a decade.

Peru is a good illustration of the previously mentioned global trends. The country holds a good position in the ranking of mining, and has also become one of the main beneficiaries of investments in exploration and development of mining projects in Latin America. Nearly twenty years have passed since mining continued to expand in Peru: in 1993, the start of sales of Yanacoch, the largest gold mine in South America, led to a period of expansion of production and significant investment in the country. 

The fact is that mining in Peru began to grow in the first half of the 1990s: the gross domestic product of metal mining grew by an average of 7.1%, and in the second half of the year by 9.1%. In this context of growth, mining has begun to gain more weight in the Peruvian economy. It accounts for about 6% of GDP and 21% of all foreign direct investment (FDI). At the same time, it accounts for just over 60% of Peruvian exports. In addition to the size of production, investment and export, the territorial variable, as already noted, plays an important role in the process of expanding production in Peru.

In recent years, the geographic area dedicated to mining has expanded significantly. Mining concessions are an important indicator of this evolution: in the early 1990s they occupied only 2.3 million hectares, while today they cover 26 million hectares, which is a little more than 20% of the Peruvian territory. Although mining in Peru was primarily considered the Andean Highlands, the fact is that it has also recently spread to the Transandian valleys, coastal areas and even the Amazon.

In this context, the struggle for control of scarce resources, such as the struggle for agricultural land, water, pollution, population displacement and productive activities, are among the most important aspects of the emergence of conflicts between extractive companies, on the one hand, and peasant and indigenous communities, with another. The growth of mining has led to a significant increase in social conflicts. According to periodic reports, about half of social conflicts in Peru are due to environmental problems, and the vast majority of these conflicts are related to mining and hydrocarbons. One of the latest reports, renewing conflicts by category, showed that mining accounts for 64% of socio-environmental conflicts.