Negotiations among Peruvian authorities, Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) and the local communities with the intent to put an end to the heated seven-month conflict over the $5 billion Conga project in the northern region of Cajamarca, are leaving out one key piece: the workers.
According to the secretary general of Peru’s Mining Federation, Luis Castillo, union representatives should participate and be heard if the parts are looking for a long-lasting agreement, reports América Economía.
He noted that thousands of families depend on workers employed by foreign companies, such as Newmont, and that it is time for the Peruvian authorities to hear what they have to say.
"Not everyone opposes Conga; mine workers, the trade sector and local families want the conflict to end. We hope they are all included soon, so that together we can reach a fair deal for everyone,” he said.
The leader called for a broader dialogue to ensure the development of mining activities in Peru fulfill strict environmental and social responsibility requirements, and criticized those who continue to promote protests and violence.
"Their attitude harms decent workers and their children. We demand responsible mining to continue expanding in our country and we see that there is a biased political position with which we disagree," he added.
Denver-based Newmont stopped construction of the copper-gold project in November and the first state of emergency was declared in December when boulders were used to block exits from the regional capital home to more than 200,000 inhabitants.
Earlier this month, President Ollanta Humala declared another state of emergency in the region after three people were killed and at least 20 were injured in clash between police and protesters.
Newmont, a $23 billion company, is the majority owner of the Conga project with Peru's Buenaventura, which was to begin production in early 2015. The new mine is basically designed as an extension of the company's nearby Yanacocha, Latin America's largest gold mine, which is approaching the end of its life.
Conga is capable of producing up to 350,000 ounces of gold and 120 million pounds of copper annually with a 19-year life.
The project is the largest ever single private investment in the country and has turned into a political minefield for the Humala administration with many within his own party calling for drastic changes to his handling of Conga.
Peru is the world's second biggest producer of copper and silver and a major producer of gold, zinc and lead. The country’s extractive sector accounts for 60% of the economy.