Newmont Mining Corp. outlined a number of community investment programs—developed in conjunction with local communities—that have been implemented or are under development in the Conga project’s area of influence in Peru. The programs, which are in addition to the numerous social investments Yanacocha has made over the last two decades, include efforts to advance health and education, critical infrastructure and economic development in Peru’s Cajamarca region. Implementation of the programs began four years ago and would continue over the life of the proposed mine. Details regarding the social investments can be found in the fact sheet released today by the company.
In addition to community investment programs, Conga is expected to generate more than US$2 billion in taxes over the life of the operation, half of which would be directed to the Cajamarca region through the mining canon. And while the project would replace four lagoons with four engineered reservoirs, downstream users would benefit from a reliable, year-round water supply, something they don’t currently have due to the lagoons not continuously overflowing into the natural streams during the dry season. The reservoirs would increase existing water storage capacity from 1.4 million cubic meters to 3.2 million cubic meters, providing water to downstream users 12 months a year.
“Conga’s community investment programs were designed by the local communities to address long-standing needs that they themselves identified as issues,” said Richard O’Brien, president and CEO of Newmont. “Although many of these programs are still in their early stages, we’ve already seen tangible results including reductions in malnutrition, school drop-out rates and grade repetition. After the Conga project is built and starts generating revenues, we expect to see even greater improvements in community health, education, nutrition, infrastructure and economic development.”
To date, Conga’s community investment programs have resulted in:
- An 8% decline in malnutrition (over four years since the program began) in children younger than 5 years old;
- Livestock production increasing to 5 tons per hectare up from 1 ton per hectare;
- Native potato production increasing to 11 tons per hectare up from 5 tons per hectare;
- 400 properly ventilated stoves built in homes to reduce indoor air pollution, a major contributor to childhood respiratory problems; and
- 26 modern irrigation systems built to support Aguaymanto farmers.
In 2008, the Conga Project Team, in cooperation with the Asociacion Los Andes de Cajamarca, engaged 32 of the project’s neighboring communities to identify opportunities for sustainable local development. In 2009, Community Development Committees (CODECOs), comprising and led by local citizens, created the “2015 Community Vision,” which set targets for improvements in social, economic and community development.
In addition to the social, economic and infrastructure benefits expected from tax revenues, Conga’s initial social investment plans that will be implemented once the project is developed, include:
- Approximately US$20 million to improve the exchange of goods and services through the construction of nearly 60 miles of new roads in the region;
- More than US$6 million in programs, facilities and equipment to reduce malnutrition among children and pregnant women;
- US$5 million to improve production and incomes of rural farmers; and
- More than US$500,000 for the construction of 15 classrooms.
Prior to the suspension of construction activities at Conga, more than 6,800 people were employed, with the overwhelming majority coming from the local communities. In 2011, the Conga Project entered into contracts worth more than US$50 million with more than 60 local contractors.
Conga’s Environmental Impact Assessment has already undergone extensive reviews by 12 government agencies and was approved by the Ministry of Energy and Mines in 2010 following a three-year, public EIA process. The environmental and social studies in Conga’s EIA spanned up to 13 years and the public engagement process included 13,000 people from the region. The EIA process was transparent and open to anyone who wanted to participate, provide input or raise issues. Conga’s reservoirs would more than double the current water storage capacity of the four lakes in question from 1.4 million cubic meters to 3.2 million cubic meters and provide a reliable, year-round water supply to downstream users, something they don’t currently have as a result of the dry season.