Peru // Rainbow Mountain saved from the mining industry by social protest~ 3 min

Geometrical representation of the Seven Colours Mountain

By Simone Vieira

The Seven Colors Mountain located in Cusco – considered a World Heritage Site since 1983 – in Peru, Latin America, is no longer at risk of being sold to the mining business. At least, according to assurances given by the mining industry and the national government.

CooperAcción organization, a Peruvian association that defends the sustainable management of the territory and promotes knowledge and the exercise of social, environmental, political, cultural and economic rights, raised awareness about the matter. The organization exposed the actions of the Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute (INGEMMET), which authorized the mining company Minquest Perú S.A.C., a subsidiary of the Canadian company Camino Minerals Corporation, to exploit the entire area of the Rainbow Mountain. The accusation went viral internationally and Minquest Perú and the government were pressured to back off and publicly announce that they would renounce the previously granted license. Strong social contestation was the deciding factor, since the Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute (INGEMMET), did nothing to save the mountain, which owes its incredible coloring to the diverse mineral materials that make up its soil.

The dispute is due to the Red Beds 2 mining concession in the Cusco and Pitumarca of Cusco districts, located respectively in the provinces of Quispicanchi and Canchis, which were requested from INGEMMET on March 30, 2015, by the subsidiary company of the Canadian Camino Minerals Corporation. The area, corresponding to 400 hectares, covers the entirety of famous mountain, including territories belonging to the farming communities of Chillihuani and Pampachiri. At the time of the request, INGEMMET’s Administration of Mining Concessions issued a warning stating that the mining license was in conflict with the proposal for the Regional Conservation Area of Ausangate by the Regional Government of Cusco, created with the purpose of preserving the fragile biodiversity, the water springs used by the population of Cusco and the cultural values of the area of Ausangate, against the massive and destructive tourism that has affected the region. An Area that includes the Rainbow Mountain, along with 17 other areas that have been declared protected areas of public interest.

The Red Beds 2 concession is one of the 4 concessions (Red Beds 1, 3 and 6) that Mineira Perú S.A.C. holds along with the State, and it’s not the only one to possess exploration rights in Peru. According to INGEMMET, 14.12% of the country’s territorial land area is concessioned (data from May, 2018).

Satellite image of the Red Beds mining concessions
Satellite image of the Red Beds 1, 2 (the one which includes Rainbow Mountain), 3 and 6 mining concessions, by Minquest Perú S.A.S.. Source: Geoportal Geocatmin (INGEMMET)

Faced with the renouncement decision, Minquest Perú sent a letter to the Cusco Regional Government, waiving the exploitation rights that had already been allocated to it. However, in order for the annulment of this concession to work, it is now necessary for the company to submit the request to INGEMMET, the entity responsible for receiving the waiver, as required by the Single Text of Administrative Procedures provisioned for in the Peruvian law. The populations have warned that they will be vigilant for the delivery of this document, so as to guarantee the protection of the mountain and the communities that live there and depend on it.

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