Published: Saturday 15 July 2000

A truck carrying mercury, spilled its toxic load near a remote Andean village poisoning 47 people, including 7 children. Mercury is the by-product of gold mining and is coveted by villagers for its medicinal value and special appearance. The villagers collected large quantities of the metal from the spill and kept it in their unventilated homes. Subsequently, the toxic fumes collected in dangerous proportions.

Minera Yanacocha, owned by us-based Newmont Mining Corporation, from which the load had been picked up already has a bad environmental record. Peruvian, Indonesian and Philippine indigenous groups attended Newmont's annual meeting in Denver to criticise the company's mining operations and their impact on the environment recently. Newmont Mining Corporation as well as Ransa Commercial, that owned the truck, were not available for comment.

Newmont, the biggest gold producer in North America, holds a 51.35 per cent interest in the mine and accounts for about 40 per cent of Peru's total output.

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