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Peru: Mining’s contribution to society – a photo diary

18 June 2024

I recently returned from a trip to Peru where I visited MMG’s Las Bambas mine in the beautiful Apurímac region and delivered a keynote speech at the SNMPE’s 15th International Mining Symposium in Lima, before hosting (along with my colleagues Haaj Ahmed and Katie Osborne) a training workshop on human rights due diligence with ICMM members.

By Danielle Martin, Co-Chief Operating Officer and Director Social Performance, ICMM. 

Peru has a long and complex history with mining, dating back to the Inca Empire with its reputation for ornamental gold, silver, and copper. Today, Peru remains a global mining powerhouse, standing as the world’s second largest copper producer behind neighbouring Chile, with substantial reserves of gold, silver, zinc, lead, and other metals. 
With this, the contribution of mining to Peru’s development is palpable. And I count myself as very fortunate to see firsthand its rich geology, rugged geography, and complex environmental and social dynamics.

Las Bambas 

Nearly half of ICMM’s members operate in Peru, including Anglo American, Barrick, BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Glencore, Gold Fields, Minsur, Newmont, Sumitomo, Teck Resources, and of course MMG. 

At Las Bambas, a mine located 4km above sea level in the Challhuahuacho District of Cotabambas province, in the spectacular southern Peruvian Andes, I was keen to see how their team are working to overcome some significant local challenges. The mine is linked to 71 communities across 14 districts if you include the more-than 700km transport corridor that it relies on to take concentrate to the port for shipping.

This has raised some particularly tricky social challenges, some of which have seen the site shut down or the transport corridor blocked for significant periods of time. This conflict has had some tragic consequences. And yet, what I saw there was very different to what you might expect.

I’ve spent almost 30 years in the industry working with companies to understand and manage their social impacts and optimise the contribution that they can make to society. I’ve seen the life-changing benefits of, for example, women acquiring new skills and earning their own incomes, kids going to school and having new worlds opened to them, and mothers being able to access healthcare for themselves and their children. I have also seen devastating consequences when this has not been managed well. In these instances, conflict can cost people their lives, communities can be failed, and sacred places can be left devastated.

We visited a number of communities near to Las Bambas and spoke with a range of people during our time there. I heard the words “Las Bambas” and “life changing” expressed in the same sentence, in the positive, more than once. 

I was struck by the effort that the Las Bambas team was making to ensure local communities felt the benefits of mining.

Through their entrepreneur and business development initiatives they are mentoring and motivating entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality.

They’re also supporting local businesses to expand their capacity.

Despite enormous challenges, Las Bambas and MMG are establishing positive parameters around their roles in and for society in the district. This is defined by the Corazon (‘the Heart of Las Bambas’) Programme that sets out a long-term, strategic, sustainable approach to managing social progress. The Las Bambas team will tell you that there is still a way to go, but it feels like solid foundations are being laid for the path ahead. I’m really excited to see what the Corazon Programme achieves over the next 5 or 10 years and how it might evolve into a model replicable elsewhere in the future.

Symposium

Fresh from my visit to Las Bambas I was delighted to attend and speak at the SNMPE’s 15th International Mining Symposium. What a great event they put on – attended by a huge crowd over three days, with contributions by President of Peru Dina Boluarte, Nobel prize winner Paul Romer, the mining ministers of Chile, Ecuador and Peru, and a host of company representatives.

I used my time to speak about the contribution of responsible mining to society, particularly referencing my trip to Las Bambas as evidence of what positive outcomes can be achieved. I was also delighted to be joined on stage by Juan Luis Kruger, CEO of Minsur, and Troy Hey, Executive General Manager Corporate Relations at MMG, to discuss how responsible mining can build trust.

Together, we spoke about mining’s critical role in the energy transition and the role that Peru can play given its mineral resources, economic stability and advancements in its social and development indicators.

Gaining the trust of society is essential for access to permits, talent and the support of local communities. When we consider mineral and metals demand for the transition, more mining is clearly needed, and local communities must see the benefits. The work happening at Las Bambas, as I described above, is evidence of the rewards of putting in the time and effort to improve trust through a sustainable approach to managing social issues.

Similarly, it was great to hear from Juan Luis about Minsur’s contribution to social and economic development in Puno, Southern Peru. During the conversation he shared how Minsur had recently entered into a cooperation framework agreement with the Puno regional government that will enable the implementation of several joint initiatives that will promote development. This is alongside another agreement with the Queracucho community for initiatives that will address economic, health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, institutional and risk and disaster-related issues over five years.

These are just two examples of what could be many others. Core to both is the predominance of Mining with Principles – that is, putting people and the planet at the heart of decision making and action.

Building capacity in human rights due diligence

My time in Peru concluded with a packed two-day practitioner workshop on human rights due diligence – informed by the guidance ICMM published last year. The guidance aims to support companies to better manage their human rights impacts. Over the two days, with more than 50 practitioners from member companies and associations, we unpacked and interrogated how to implement those best practices to respect human rights. We’re repeating the training in South Africa later in the year.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Peru and was grateful for the tangible demonstration of the positive and significant role mining can play for the betterment of economies and society when done right.