Changes Suggested to Minas Conga Water Storage Plan

On April 17, 2012, the Peruvian govern-ment received an independent, 248-page report from contracted consultants analyz-ing the hydrologic aspects of Minera Yanacocha’s Minas Conga gold mine proj-ect in Cajamarca province, Peru. Minera Yanacocha is owned 51.35% by Newmont, 43.65% by Buenaventura, and 5% by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. The project, which has estimated capital costs of about $4.8 billion, has been shut down since November 2011 due to protests directed primarily at its water stor-age plans, which call for four lakes on the property to be replaced by four water stor-age reservoirs. The report suggests, among other recommendations, that two of the lakes be left intact and that water storage capacity of the reservoirs be increased.

In a televised address to the nation on April 20, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala gave tentative approval to develop-ment of the Conga project, with the condi-tion that its developers take additional measures to mitigate its hydrologic and environmental impact.

On April 21, Minera Yanacocha said in a press release that it will undertake a new evaluation of technical and economic alter-natives for the project, as well as of ways to compensate for its hydrologic and environ-mental impact. Production from the Minas Conga open-pit mine is planned to be in the range of 600,000 to 700,000 oz/y of gold and 160,000 to 240,000 lb/y of copper.

As featured in Womp 2012 Vol 05 -