LIMA – One protester was killed and four were injured in a clash between police and a group of peasants at a mine owned by the Peruvian subsidiary of Canada’s Barrick Gold, a police spokesperson told Efe on Thursday.
“Four were injured and one person was killed, all civilians” in the protest in the northwestern region of Ancash, the spokesperson said on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.
The clash occurred Wednesday afternoon when some 150 peasants from the Mareniyoc and San Isidro communities blocked an access road to the Pierina mine – owned by Barrick Misquichilca, the local subsidiary of the world’s largest gold producer – to protest a lack of potable water over the past eight days, RPP radio reported.
During the protest, the demonstrators expressed their rejection of a water treatment plant built by the mine owner, saying it is contaminated.
“We’re fighting for our water. The mine officials have ignored us since Wednesday (of last week). They want to give us contaminated water,” one of the protesters told RPP.
Barrick Misquichilca said for its part in a statement cited by RPP that the water supply problem affecting local residents is out of the company’s control.
The subsidiary’s corporate affairs manager, Gonzalo Quijandria, told the radio station that the water treatment plant is the solution to the area’s problems but that it is not accepted by the communities.
“Sunass (National Superintendence of Sanitation Services) has observed a water treatment plant in Huaraz (the regional capital) that supplies (Mareniyoc), and they’re supplied by the company because we drive a water tank truck to that community and we’ve been doing so for several years,” Quijandria said.
The executive added that “there’s a political component and lack of trust, in that the population doesn’t want to use water from the mine even though the water’s been certified” by the Environmental Assessment and Oversight Agency.
Pierina, an open-pit mine located in the Andes mountains at a height of 4,100 meters (13,440 feet), produced 152,000 ounces of gold in 2011, according to Barrick Misquichilca’s Web site. EFE