Report warns of possible toxic leaks from mining into Lima water supply


The Ariana mining project, on which construction will begin in 2019, is one of the main concerns of the Mining Conflicts Observatory in Peru due to potential leaks of toxic materials into the Rimac River basin, which supplies the drinking water for Peru’s capital, authorities said in Lima on Wednesday.

The Southern Peaks Mining company project is slated to be carried out very near the Transandino Tunnel, through which water flows from the Mantaro River basin into the Rimac River basin, the head author of the 23rd Report of the Mining Conflicts Observatory, Jose de Echave, told the press.

“The Sedapal (sanitation company) sent an official letter (to the Energy and Mines Ministry) in which it expressed its great concern over the possibilities for environmental impacts that the project could have on the Lima city water supply,” he added.

De Echave, the co-founder of the non-governmental organization CooperAccion, said that the risks include “possible leaks” in a zone where there are, at least, six high Andean water bodies and a deposit of mine tailings that is less than 50 meters (yards) from the Transandino Tunnel.

“The possible leaks and the possible impacts are also acknowledged in the Environmental Impact Study, which has generated concern within the potable water service of Lima,” which has some 10 million residents, he said.

De Echave added that “what concerns us is that this project has been approved in this high-risk zone and we’re also concerned about the firm’s history,” which - he said - abandoned another mining project in the Quiruvilca zone, in the La Libertad region, which was then invaded by informal or unauthorized miners.

He said that this situation shows that Peru needs “put its territory in order and see to it that mining projects are not located in zones that are crucial for the issue of water supply.”

Of a total of 202 social conflicts in Peru in 2018, about 63 percent involved social-environmental issues and, of those, 65 percent were related to mining, according to the Peruvian Ombudsman’s Office.