Peru’s long-running Conga mine dispute moved slightly forward on Tuesday after the government appointed foreign engineers to oversee an independent review of Newmont Mining Corp.'s stalled $4.8 billion gold project, reports La Republica.
The official document, released by Peru's Council of Ministers, reveals that that Spanish engineers Luis Lopez and Rafael Fernandez signed contracts with the Peruvian government on Feb 1, while Portuguese geologist Jose Martins Carvalho is expected to sign an agreement within a few days, according to La Republica.
Lopez will study surface water and reservoirs, while Fernandez will evaluate the water quality and the environmental impact of the project and Martins will review groundwater issues.
"We welcome the re-review of Conga's EIA (environmental permit) and trust that the panel selected by the government will be objective and impartial in their work," Newmont's head of corporate communications, Omar Jabara, was quoted saying by Fox Business.
“Conga’s EIA has already undergone extensive reviews by 12 government agencies and was approved by the mines and energy ministry in 2010 following a three-year, public EIA process,” Jabara said.
The largest single investment in Peruvian history has been stalled for more than two months after anti-Conga protestors blockaded the provincial capital of Cajamarca for 11 days. The government is hoping it can restart the project after the review.
Opponents of the joint venture between Newmont and Buenaventura fear that the Conga project will damage local lakes and taint water supplies. Conga would replace four lagoons with four engineered reservoirs, which Newmont said would increase existing water storage capacity from 1.4 million cubic metres to 3.2 million cubic metres.
(Photo: City of Cajamarca)