Washington, DC — Today, the Supreme Court of Peru upheld a lower court decision in favor of local farmer Máxima Acuña de Chaupe and her family in their fight to protect their land near the proposed Conga gold mine. The Conga mine is a proposed project of the Peruvian subsidiary of US-based Newmont Mining, who brought the aggravated assault suit against Máxima.
“We are pleased with the Court's ruling in favor of Máxima and her family in this multi-year struggle,” said Payal Sampat, Earthworks Mining Program Director. “Máxima has suffered greatly as a result of Newmont Mining’s heavy-handed attempts to take over her land. Newmont must drop its lawsuits against Máxima and remove their security forces from her land. We will not rest until Máxima and her family can live safely and in peace in their home.”
Máxima is a 2016 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, the largest environmental prize for grassroots environmental activism in the world. Along with a number of other landowners in the Cajamarca region of Peru, Máxima has been embattled with the mining giant for years in pursuit of protecting her land and the mountain lakes that provide for her and her community.
Last September, a year-long investigation commissioned and funded by Newmont found that the company ignored human rights standards, “prioritized eviction and litigation over dialogue,” andviolated its own standards in its land dispute with Máxima and her family.
In February 2016, Newmont stated in its 10K filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it would be mothballing the project for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, the company has persisted with multiple lawsuits against Máxima in its quest to obtain her land, and it continues to post 24/7 security forces on and around her land.
“Hundreds of thousands of SumOfUs members have stood in solidarity with Máxima in her fight against Newmont over the last three years,” said Angus Wong, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs.org. “All of us are glad to see the courts side with Máxima today. This decision gives us hope that if we stand together with heroines like Máxima, we can prevent billion dollar corporations from forcing communities to accept mining projects they don’t want.”
At Newmont’s Annual General Meeting for shareholders this April in New York City, the corporate watchdog organization SumOfUs introduced a stockholder proposal to request a human rights assessment. Earthworks spoke in favor of the proposal and specifically asked the Chair of the Board to commit to dropping all of the lawsuits against Máxima. Newmont declined to commit to dropping their lawsuits. Despite the company’s opposition, the human rights proposal secured 28 percent support from shareholders.