Here, we share a short but incisive demonstration of the case and how the platforms works. Once it will be online, you can explore deeply the casethrpigh these amazing drone's pictures, scientific data and health studies we collected across the years.
Based on the information that we collected, we found that the health of virtually all the children from Paragsha (Cerro de Pasco’s neighborhood that is particularly exposed to the mine) is compromised. They have severely elevated levels of lead and other heavy metals in their blood and hair. Most have developed medical symptoms typically associated with heavy metal poisoning, such as nose bleeding, chronic gastrointestinal diseases, reduced vision, dermatological alterations, depression and other behaviour disorders.
The children’s contamination with heavy metals is caused primarily by the ingestion of contaminated soil, water and food and through inhalation or ingestion of contaminated dust. The residential soil of Cerro de Pasco, including in children playgrounds, is contaminated with heavy metals. So is the water of the rivers around Cerro de Pasco and the city’s drinking water.
Volcan significantly contributed to the environmental pollution in Cerro de Pasco. It deposited mine tailings enriched in heavy metals in the immediate vicinity of the town. Through a series of studies, we concluded that the Excelsior stockpile owned by another company is not a major source of today’s pollution. Rather, air and soil pollution is directly linked to Volcan’s ongoing mining activities and in particular to the crushing, grounding and transportation of ore and waste rock. In addition, Volcan’s discharge waters contains extremely high levels of heavy metals. To put this into context, the contamination measured in a river downstream the mine exceeded by 166 time the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, for which the polluting company is being held responsible by American courts.
Together with SITU Research we created an interactive platform to visualize the environmental and health impact of Volcan’s mining activities as established through scientific data. The digital platform presented in the video above includes over 100,000 data points from scientific sampling and tests in and around Cerro de Pasco.
The environmental and health situation in Cerro de Pasco has not eased since 2017 when Glencore took control of Volcan. We have compared hair studies of dozens of children from Paragsha conducted in 2016 and then again in 2018. The results are clear: In 2018 the heavy metal concentration in the children’s hair has dramatically increased. On average, the manganese, iron and chrome content had more than doubled, and the lead content increased by 47%. In addition, satellite imagery analysis shows a significant increase in areal expansion of lead contamination in Cerro de Pasco between 2016 and the end of 2018.
None in Peru was surprised by our findings. In fact, the competent national regulatory authority had issued dozens of fines against Volcan for exceeding maximum levels of permissible pollutants and for other environmental infringements. In addition, in 2017 and then again in 2018 after Glencore took control of Volcan, the Peruvian Government declared health emergencies in Cerro de Pasco.
Volcan states that it is one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, lead and silver at one of the lowest costs in the industry. Our report shows that for the metals produced in Cerro de Pasco, a good part of the cost is borne by others, namely the people of Cerro de Pasco. It is especially the children, like the girl representing the Responsible Business Initiative, who pay for it with their health. The facts that we have established on the situation in Cerro de Pasco tell a clear story. They don’t lie.