Mining Toromocho and Resettling Morococha

It’s August 2013, and the Mining and Metallurgical Geological Institute of Peru (INGEMMET) is considering issuance of a report declaring the Morococha district a high-risk zone. Purportedly, the area is threatened by geological hazard from potential mass movements, landslides, and rock falls due to seismic vibrations generated by detonations in the nearby Toromocho copper mine, operated by Chinalco Mining Corporation International (Chinalco International). A declaration of hazard would give legitimacy to government efforts to clear residents from the area in order to allow smooth development of the mine, yet it would risk causing violent confrontation with the very people it would be supposedly designed to protect. Although the footprint of the mining pit will not swallow Morococha until year eight of operations, the presence of residents in Morococha impedes seamless operations—and places civil society at risk. Protests and bad press further exacerbate the situation. What price are Peruvian officials willing to pay for Toromocho’s bounty?