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Trip to Peru Highlights Struggles Between Community and Mining Company

January 25, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Pat Zerega, Director of Shareholder Advocacy, Mercy Investment Services

Mercy has historically been an active participant in corporate engagements regarding environmental issues such as mining. The impact of mining on our sisters living in Peru has spurred additional engagements in recent years with companies including Newmont Mining and Doe Run. I recently participated in a delegation of four Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) members who traveled to Cajamarca, Peru, to meet with Newmont Mining and with local stakeholders affected by the company’s practices.

Founded in 1921, Newmont Mining is the world’s largest gold producer with assets around the globe including Australia, Indonesia, the United States and Peru. Like any extractive industry, mining impacts the environment and the community where the mining occurs. Sisters of Mercy from the United States as well as congregations such as Ireland and Canada are actively involved in many of the communities impacted by Newmont. Through ICCR, Mercy Investment Services has been involved in engagements with Newmont that have resulted in positive efforts from the company. For nearly two years, shareholders including Mercy Investment Services have heard the concerns of communities around Cajamarca and the Yanacocha mining operations in Peru. The current mine has many issues concerning water and reservoirs, and there are plans for a new site, Minas Conga. In July 2012, the local community and police near Minas Conga clashed violently, resulting in five fatalities. Because of ongoing concerns related to the mine and the unrest in the area, we, as investors, believed it was important to gain firsthand knowledge of what was happening and to bring this local voice to Newmont.

While in Peru, I connected with Sisters of Mercy on the ground, who were instrumental in facilitating sharing from within the community. Sister Cait Wims helped the delegation navigate customs and the city. In Lima, Sisters Pat Mulderick and Sheila Murphy arranged housing and translation for the team. Meeting with environmental groups, government ministers, researchers, media, and the faith community in this locale gave us new insights into the complexities and challenges of sustainable development. When the delegation traveled to Cajamarca, Sister Marion Collins and other Mercy sisters arranged for meetings with the community members impacted by the current and future mines, including relatives of those who were killed during July’s violence. Maintaining this seat at the table with Newmont allows us as shareholders to continue to engage Newmont on these issues and push for productive relationships with the local community, with a priority on active listening by Newmont.

While we knew many of the intricacies before the trip, we more fully understand the enormity of the complex political, social and corporate challenges as well as opportunities that face both the communities and Newmont Mining as they move into the future. We hope to continue to connect with Sisters of Mercy in Peru and the local community in order to bring their voices to the table with Newmont.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy carle permalink
    January 25, 2013 1:26 pm

    Thanks to Pat for this informative and timely blog. I am pleased that ICCR made so many good contacts with Sisters of Mercy in Peru and making the effort to listen to local voices. This is a good example of Mercy Investment Services networking for justice and exercising shareholder advocacy. There is value in having firsthand experience of the political and cultural complexities present in the challenges over mining in Peru. When I spent time in Chulucanas and Paicapampa, Peru in 2008, I became very aware of the struggles over mining in northern Peru. I remember seeing political grafitti regarding mining throughout the region.

  2. marianne comfort permalink
    January 26, 2013 12:35 pm

    So great to see MIS visiting Peru and gaining a greater understanding of the issues involved there related to mining. This work is a wonderful example of Mercy working together through corporate engagement, local presence with the affected communities, and external pressure by Mercy at the UN and by the Institute Justice team in D.C.

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