ERI filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the Peruvian Constitutional Court in support of the challenge brought by the NGO Grufides against Newmont Mining’s Conga mining project along with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Earthworks. The organizations expressed their interest in promoting justice systems that respect international principles of sustainable development and precaution against environmental threats posed by mining activities. These principles, recognized both internationally and in Peru, require the government to take every measure to prevent and mitigate irreversible environmental harm even when there is uncertainty about the extent of damage to the environment.
With the Conga project, independent experts have raised legitimate concerns about the environmental impacts that warrant the application of the principles of precaution and sustainable development. The project threatens to destroy wetlands and lagoons essential to the region, and may contaminate groundwater.
The system adopted by the Peruvian government for review of the Conga project’s EIA was insufficient to meet international and constitutional requirements. The Ministry of Energy and Mines simultaneously promoted the Conga project and was the final arbiter of the EIA, creating a clear conflict of interest that interfered with environmental protection. The Conga project did not benefit from an independent system of review and approval of the EIA, as required by international standards.