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Rio Blanco Mine Majaz/Rio Blanco Copper S. A., Peru


In 2001 Minera Majaz S. A., a subsidiary of the English company Monterrico Metals, obtained eight concessions in the North of Peru, including the 6,472 hectares Rio Blanco mine for the exploitation of copper and molybdenum.

Thousands of farmers, local community representatives, Mayors, provincial administrators together with social and environmental organisations opposed the project, demanding the cancellation of environmental certification granted to Minera Majaz S. A. for exploratory operations.

The Monterrico company was involved in violence and torture against local peasants, a court case took place in London. The final settlement of the legal case by July 2011 didn’t recognize Monterrico liability but it had to repay compensations to the 33 Peruvian farmers who pursued the charges.

Rio Blanco Copper S.A., which now owns the mine, has shown its interest to start the exploitation of the mine, situation which raised again the inhabitants’ concerns.

Women from both Peru and Ecuador denounce together mining activities of Rio Blanco Copper S.A. on their lands, threatening their lands’ fertility and traditional livelihood. During a gathering in November 2014 they highlighted the fact that although the company didn’t start the exploitation of the mine in Rio Blanco, the prior preparation are already affecting their communities.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Rio Blanco Mine Majaz/Rio Blanco Copper S. A., Peru
State or province:Piura and Cajamarca
Location of conflict:Huancabamba, Ayabaca / San Ignacio
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Copper
Rare metals

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The project extends over more than 6.000 hectars. At planned production rates, Rio Blanco would be amongst the 20 largest copper mines in the world, producing on average of 191,000 tonnes of copper per annum and 2,180 tonnes of molybdenum per annum during the first five years.

On 27 April 2007, a Chinese consortium, Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Development Co. Ltd (the Zijin Consortium) acquired a majority shareholding (89.9%) of Monterrico.

Rio Blanco Copper S. A., which today officially owns the mine is itself owned by both the British Monterrico Metals and the Chinese Zijin Mining Group.

The project includes 25 km of new roads and electrical networks, as well as a port at Bayovar on the Pacific coast.

Project area:6,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1440000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:25,000
Start of the conflict:2002
Company names or state enterprises:Majaz S.A. Mine from Peru
Monterrico Metals plc
Zijin Consortium (Xiamen Zijin Tongguan Investment Development) from China
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Huacabamba - Peru, Municipality of Sndor - Peru, MEM - Peru, Ombudsman - Peru, PNP - Peru
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CONACAMI - Peru, FDSFNP - Peru, Rondas Campesinas, Farming Communities of Segunda and Cajas - Peru, Asociación de Mujeres Protectoras de los Páramos AMUPPA, Provincial Federation of peasant vigilantes of Huancabamba - Peru, Front for the Defence of Life and Environment of Huancabamba - Peru, CEPICAFE - Peru, Professors Association of Huancabamba - Peru, Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Perú (FDSFNP), Oxfam America

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:More than 90 percent of farmers opposed the Majaz Rio Blanco project and asked the Government to respect their decision. The census was over 17,000 people in the districts of Ayabaca, Pacaipampa, and Carmen de la Frontera in Piura, they voted overwhelmingly September 16, 2007, to reject investment in the nearby Majaz copper mine of the Rio Blanco project.
July 28, 2011 Monterrico Metals Plc., a British company that owns Ro Blanco Copper S.A., previously known as Minera Majaz S.A., agreed to compensate 32 farmers tortured at the mining camp and the relatives of a farmer who died, both of which occurred between August 1 and 3, 2005.
The company agreed to compensate the farmers so that the plaintiffs would put an end to the lawsuit filed in June 2009 with the British High Court against Monterrico Metals Plc., in its capacity as parent company of Rio Blanco Copper S.A.
In 2012, a new lawsuit against the Peruvian Police for torture against peasants in the same 2005 case, has started.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:In 2012, Rio Blanco S.A. company was trying to start exploitation, while the Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Per FDSFNP, of municipalities, districts, communities and Rondas Campesinas and other organizations of the provinces of Huancabamba and Ayabaca (Piura) and provinces of San Ignacio and Jaen (Cajamarca)opposed the project. The Monterrico company was brought to court in London for tortures to local peasant, and had to pay for damages. A successful local referendum against the project took place.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

ILO - OIT (International Labour Organisation) Convention 169

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Rondas campesinas de mujeres, participacion social y politica, y problematica ambiental en Bambamarca. Chacon Raul. 2005

Hacia una Estimacion de los Efectos de la Actividad Minera en los Indices de Pobreza en el Peru. Torres C., Victor ; De Echave C., Jose. Ed. Cooperaccion 2005.

INFORME DE CONFLICTOS MINEROS : los casos de Majaz, las Bambas, Tintaya y la Oroya. Cooperaccion 2006.

Mineria y Comunidades Testimonios Orales y Graficos. Cooperaccion. 2000.

CONSULTA VECINAL SOBRE MINERIA EN LA SIERRA DE PIURA: CONTRA VIENTO Y MAREA, GANÓ LA DEMOCRACIA PARA EL BIEN DE TODOS , OLCA report 2007, with statistics on number of residents and voters in the local referendum

Proyecto minero Río Blanco: una bomba de tiempo en la frontera norte, 31/08/2014

AMBIENTE-PERÚ: Estudio advierte daño causado por minera Majaz, M. Salazar, 9/10/2007

Abuse claims against Peru police guarding British firm Monterrico, I. Cobain, 18/10/2009

Caso Majaz: Absuelven a 107 personas acusadas falsamente de diversos delitos, 7/06/2012

Resoluciones del encuentro de mujeres en resistencia a los proyectos mineros en Rio Blanco en Peru y Ecuador, 7/12/2014

Secuestro, asesinato y tortura en el campamento del proyecto Majaz (ahora Río Blanco), 30/07/2005

Peruvian torture claimants compensated by UK mining company, 20/07/2011

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Majaz Proyecto Rio Blanco, youtube video

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl & Joan Martinez Alier
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:508



Police ression and toture of pacific farmers marching to the Rio Blanco mining

Source: Fedepaz

Ecuadorian and Peruvian women's gathering in December 2014 opposing the Rio Blanco mine