The case for integrative sustainable development practice based on the Minas Conga gold-mining experience in Peru

Timothy J. Downs, Andrea Cabrera Roa, Katherine Chyna Dixon, Phyllis Duff, Eric Pasay, Hannah Silverfine

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Mining projects are among the most impactful development projects, and the most controversial. The Conga Mining Project, proposed by the U.S. based Newmont Mining Corporation, in partnership with Minas Buenaventura, was slated for the Cajamarca region of Peru. Since the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was completed in 2010, controversy has escalated: public protests have precipitated a political crisis for President Humala, with several ministers resigning. The proposed project would have been made located approximately 73 km northeast of the city of Cajamarca, in the northern Peruvian Andes, in the district of Sorochuco, within an area defined by four major lakes, headwaters of rivers, and wetlands. Despite findings of “no significant impact” by the 2010 EIA, the project is currently postponed indefinitely due to the public backlash, international attention, and questions of integrity surrounding environmental and social concerns. We use the Conga Mining case to interrogate business-as-usual (BAU) design, assessment, planning, implementation and monitoring practices for extractive development in Peru, and suggest alternatives. Our analysis is based on an integrative framework that is empirically based (previously developed by the authors), one with a greater likelihood of improving sustainable development and the equity of positive and negative impacts among stakeholders. Suggestions are tailored to the setting: we pay special attention to the climate-change and socio-political contexts of Peru. We seek to exploit a shifting political landscape that is resisting BAU and countering the systematic disenfranchisement of vulnerable populations by extractive resource industries. These appear to be enabling conditions to promote the adoption of a capacity building, socio-technical enterprise approach to framing and designing sustainable development projects in Peru, with implications beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-40
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geoscience and Environment Protection
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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