Espinar, a small Peruvian town part of the southern mining corridor supplies 40% of Peru copper making it the world’s second-largest producer. For over thirty years mining has become part of the economy of the area generating a deterioration of the living conditions for the indigenous population, whose livelihood was based mainly on agriculture and livestock. In 2006 the Tintaya mine was bought by the multinational Xstrata Cooper that in 2013 merged with Glencore giving life to one of the largest world consortiums able to control the entire production chain, processing, storage and transportation of raw materials throughout Latin America. The power of this multinational company completely changed the balance of the area, throwing the communities of balance, in an alarming sanitary situation and total poverty. The major problem is the water’s pollution contaminated by heavy metals as a result of the exhausts of the mine, which end up in the rivers. Animals drink from the river and die, or they born already dead; there is no water to irrigate fields that are dry. Many children born with physical or mental malformations, renal failure is the leading cause of mortality. Other issues are the dust produced during the extraction and the storage of copper which end up the areas of cultivation and pasture.
Although many reports underlined the pollution of the rivers, reflected in the presence of arsenic, lead, chromium, and mercury in the blood and urine of the local population, the State is ignoring the situation, abandoning the locals in favor of the mine unlawfully operations.
TEXT: Chiara Sgreccia
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