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Peruvian Ministry of Environment rejects law that exonerates bankrupt miners from environmental assessments

Peruvian Congress. (Image by Congreso de la República del Perú, Flickr.)

The Peruvian Ministry of Environment (Minam) issued a media statement over the weekend rejecting Congress’ approval of Bill 412, which exonerates mining companies that declare bankruptcy from complying with environmental assessment processes.

The bill’s passing, which was also criticized by the executive power, was done under the legal concept of ‘insistence,’ meaning that a second round of voting was not necessary. It was initially tabled by congressman César Revilla of the right-wing Fuerza Popular party.

In detail, the bill establishes special measures for companies undergoing asset restructuring. The measures are framed within the General Law of the Bankruptcy System.

After its approval in the plenary session, the law was sent back to Congress by the executive power with a number of observations. However, the board of spokespersons decided to exonerate it from the observations made by the Economy and Energy commissions and submit it to a single vote that concluded in its approval by insistence.

“We strongly reject the approved text, since it allows mining companies in a precarious economic situation or bankruptcy to have a legal argument that will affect the health of the population and that does not guarantee any environmental protection,” the ministry’s communiqué reads.

“This will also encourage any company in this sector to modify or incorporate elements without environmental approvals in its operations or mine closure plans. Furthermore, they will be able to operate without financial guarantees to ensure proper mine closure.”

Minam also said that, together with National Environmental Certification Service for Sustainable Investments, it has declared the new law as non-viable and that it is hard to believe that the bill was forced upon the Peruvian people through insistence.

“We call on the Congress of the Republic to evaluate this approved norm that puts at risk the wellbeing of the population, as well as the environment and natural resources, since it does not guarantee compliance with environmental regulations that ensure that companies will properly deal with their environmental liabilities,” the statement reads.