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NEWS: Mining company CEO warns of Canada-Peru FTA challenge

The people of Puno Agence France Presse reports, “The Peruvian Mines and Energy Ministry said Peru’s government withdrew Vancouver-based Bear Creek Mining Corporation’s concession to develop a silver deposit (on Friday)… (The decision came after) an estimated 1,000 protesters attempted to occupy Inca Manco Capac International Airport near Lake Titicaca. The protest followed a wave of anti-mining demonstrations (led primarily by Aymara Indians) that began last month. …At least three protesters were killed and 12 wounded (on) Friday in (the) clashes…” The ministry stated, “The government will issue a decree that repeals (Bear Creek’s Santa Ana) silver mine project and will issue another one that establishes that all future mining and oil concessions must be approved by the people of the zone.” AFP notes, “Since May, the southern region of Puno has seen large-scale protests against mining projects. Protesters began by calling for Bear Creek’s Santa Ana silver mining concession to be revoked, saying they feared it (notably its use of toxic cyanide to separate the silver) would pollute the water and bring few benefits to the local population. …The demonstrations expanded to include opposition to other area mines and the proposed Inambari project, which would dam several Andean rivers for a massive hydroelectric plant.”

“Speaking on the phone from the Peruvian capital Lima, (Bear Creek CEO Andrew) Swarthout said the company will wait to get more details from the ministry, and depending on how the concessions are affected, it will decide which legal possibilities to pursue. ‘There’s a free-trade agreement between Canada and Peru which is very regulated, so there’s avenues there,’ Swarthout said. ‘We will go through the free trade agreement … and also, we have legal recourse here in Peru,’ he said, referring to the Peruvian constitution.” “Jamie Kneen, spokesman for Mining Watch Canada said…that the free trade agreement between Canada and Peru limits the Peruvian government’s options while protecting Canadian mining companies with interests in the country.” In June 2009, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew wrote about the Senate having just passed the Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement. He highlighted, “Canada’s main development interests in Peru are mining and resource extraction. The Peruvian government passed several decrees to open up the Amazon for business to sweeten the FTAs with the United States and Canada.” An action alert that same month from the Council of Canadians, MiningWatch and Common Frontiers stated, “The Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement gives Canadian resource companies new legal powers to challenge what few Peruvian laws stand in their way, while paying only lip service to labour rights and environmental protection.” For past campaign blogs on the uprising against the Canadian mine in Peru, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=8057, http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=8065 and http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=8102.