Peru's environmental regulator amasses $40 million in mining fines

Peru’s environmental watchdog has filed fines against mining companies operating in the country for infractions worth about $40 million since its creation in September 2009 until the end of 2012, BNamericas reports (subs. required).

The regulator, known as OEFA, said the fines to mining firms accounted for 67% of the total collected. Mining, energy and fishing combined – the only three sectors that OEFA inspects – racked up close to $59 million.

OEFA conducted over 1,000 inspections in the three sectors in the first 10 months of 2012, and has announced plans for 1,028 inspections to take place in the mining sector alone this year, said the institution in a press release.

The watchdog's 2013 plan includes determining the areas in which environmental efforts are to be focused to prevent both contamination and social conflict.

So far, mining investment worth $7.5 billion, corresponding to 135 projects, are stalled in Peru as the country’s environmental authorities linger over the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) submitted last year.

More than half of the total reports submitted to Peru's Mining Environmental Affairs department in early 2012 are still under evaluation.

The president of Peru’s Central Bank (BCR), Julio Velarde, warned last month that private investment in the country’s resource sector was expected to decrease by at least $ 2.9bn between 2013 and 2014 due to the authorities’ delay.

Peru’s mining, oil and energy society (SNMPE) said last September that, as a result of almost a year of non-stop anti-mining protests in different regions, investors had started looking for greener pastures and so mining investment in the South American nation was expected to fall 33% this year.

Behind Chile, Peru is the world's second biggest producer of copper and silver and a major producer of gold, zinc, lead and other minerals.

Image © Dim Dimich 

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