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Environmental impact of mining liabilities in water resources of Parac micro-watershed, San Mateo Huanchor district, Peru

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Before environmental legislation was enforced, worldwide historical mines abandoned their operations without properly remediation and closure affecting the ecosystems. Because of its geological richness, Peru has attracted mining activities since colonial times and more than 8571 mining liabilities have been left. Pacococha and Millotingo mining liabilities are located on the banks of Aruri River, above Parac micro-watershed, from where communities of San Jose de Parac and San Antonio (San Mateo Huanchor district, Lima) take water for irrigating crops in low-flow periods. This paper reports for the first time in Peru the use of an interdisciplinary approach to examine the environmental effects of mining liabilities and small-scale mining on peasant communities. Physical and chemical methods, such as microscopy and spectrometry, were used to verify the presence of sulfides and to measure critical water quality parameters of Aruri and Rimac rivers. The ecosystem approach was applied to collect socioeconomic information from both communities; social actors and their statements regarding tailing problems were identified by social multi-criteria evaluation. It was found that the tailings contained sulfides that provide arsenic, cadmium, copper, zinc and manganese to Aruri and Rimac rivers in levels that exceed State of Oregon (USA) standard limits. It was also observed that both communities use this water to irrigate potato and alfalfa crops, well-known bioaccumulators. The tailings were classified as high risk to the environment by the Peruvian General Direction of Mining; however, future remediation remains uncertain due to a judicial dispute.

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  1. This document is an action plan for the 21st century set in the Earth Summit of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The action plan contains 4 sections: Social and Economic Dimensions, Conservation and Management of Resources for Development, Strengthening the Role of Major Groups, and Means of Implementation.

  2. Ministerial Resolution N° 094-2013-MEM/DM. Entrust the state company Activos Mineros SAC execute the remediation of environmental mining liabilities of various projects in the regions of Ancash, Lima, Cajamarca, Huancavelica, Pasco, Junín and Ica. It was published by the newspaper El Peruano on 12 March 2013 (

  3. Although there are five tailings Dorado deposits in Cajamarca remediated for the promulgation of the Ministerial Resolution N° 290-2007-MEM/DM due to the Tripartite Agreement between the MEM, the National Environment Fund—Peru (FONAM) and Activos Mineros in 2007.

  4. Presidency of the Council of Ministers promulgates Supreme Decree N° 050-2008-PCM, declaring the State of Emergency in Tamboraque hill, located in the district of San Mateo de Huanchor province of Huarochiri, Department of Lima. The rule was published in the newspaper El Peruano on July 18, 2008.


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This research was supported by a PUCP grant Programa de Apoyo a la Investigación para Estudiantes de Posgrado PAIP-2014.

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Corzo, A., Gamboa, N. Environmental impact of mining liabilities in water resources of Parac micro-watershed, San Mateo Huanchor district, Peru. Environ Dev Sustain 20, 939–961 (2018).

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