Human rights court orders Peru to pay damages to mining town

Railway Station of the peruvian mining city of La Oroya. Photo by Maurice Chédel, Wikimedia Commons.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Friday ordered Peru to pay damages to residents of an Andean town for violations of their right to a healthy environment from years of air, water and soil pollution from a nearby mine.

The court ruled the state failed to comply with its duty to regulate and supervise La Oroya Metallurgical Complex, which was active for nearly a century before debts and environmental regulations forced it to close in 2009.

The court said it corroborated that exposure to lead, cadmium, arsenic and sulfur dioxide posed a significant risk to at least 80 local residents, who did not receive adequate medical attention from the government when they became ill.

The court decided they should receive at least $30,000 each in damages, with the most vulnerable receiving $50,000.

A further $65,000 each should be paid to the legal beneficiaries of two victims who died from diseases caused by the pollution.

Officials from Peru’s government and its mining ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

La Oroya partially resumed operations in 2023, managed by Metalurgica Business Peru SAC, a firm that counts former workers among its shareholders and promised to comply with environmental standards.

Peru is the world’s second largest copper producer and mining makes up 60% of its total exports.

The court ordered the government to assess the current state of contamination in La Oroya and provide cash and free medical aid to the victims.

(By Marco Aquino, Aida Pelaez-Fernandez and Sarah Morland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *