By Ian Cobain Published in the Guardian.co.uk, October 18th 2009
Peru is already the world’s third-largest copper-producing nation, and the mine in the province of Piura was to have increased output by around a quarter, producing exports worth up to $1bn (£600m) a year for the next 20 years.
However, the corporation found itself in conflict with local farmers soon after its arrival in the region in 2001, and has struggled to develop the project.
At 18,858 acres (7,600 hectares), the mining concession covered a vast area, much of it covered by cloud forest that collects rainwater and feeds it into rivers flowing into the agricultural basins below. Farmers and environmentalists feared the rivers would become polluted and depleted, that the fragile eco-systems of the region would be severely damaged and that farmlands would be endangered.
In law, the corporation was required to obtain the consent of two-thirds of the local population before embarking on mining but – with the apparent encouragement of the government – it tried to press ahead without it. This resulted in a series of violent confrontations.