Originally published in Peru This Week on 18/09/15.
Mining exploration near Ausungate mountain range in Cusco is posing a threat to the Qoyllur Riti tradition.
Communities are denouncing that their rights have been violated by mining exploration currently taking place in the Ausungate mountain range area of Cusco.
In that same mountain range, the Qoylluri Riti Andean tradition is celebrated by local communities and serves as a big tourist attraction every year.
Residents of Chilca and Osefina have reported that the company Minquest is doing mining exploration in various regions of Ausungate. They fear that their operations could alter the wildlife and native species such as condors and vicuñas, putting their traditions, economies and the survival of the communities at risk.
The Peruvian mining company Minquest was acquired earlier this year by the Canadian company Camino Minerals Corporation. They now own the high grade Plata Dorada project which produces silver, gold and copper in Cusco.
Of the communities’ major concern is that they were not considered for dialogue with the mining companies in any decision-making, thus violating their rights under the Prior Consultation Act.
“The villagers in the area tell us that without consultation, Minquest Peru is opening tracks and performing mining exploration. They also warned us that informal mining machinery has been entering…We will not allow that this affects the pilgrimage Señor de Qoyllurit’i y al Apu Ausangate that are sacred for us,” said Congresswoman Veronika Mendoza, according to La Mula.
UNESCO declared the pilgrimage a Cultural Heritage of Humanity and thus permits authorities to step in for its protection.