Press Releases

Independent Commission Report on the Mercury Spill in the Province of Cajamarca, Peru

Meg Taylor
Phone:  (202) 458-9452
Fax:   (202) 522-7400

Rachel Kyte (Sept. 25 – Oct. 6, 2000)
Phone: (011) 44 7799 710 548

Washington, D.C. September 25, 2000 -- Just over three months after 151 kilograms of mercury was spilled from a truck travelling from Minera Yanacocha SRL and Lima, Peru, the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman today released the report of the Independent Commission convened to investigate the spill and its causes.
We believe this balanced report provides a timely, objective study of why such a preventable incident occurred, said Meg Taylor, Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman for the International Finance Corporation. The mine's shareholders should be congratulated for asking for an independent review. I hope they will now act to ensure that their practices and relationship with neighboring communities are significantly strengthened, she added.
The report makes recommendations to the mine and its shareholders on actions to prevent a similar incident in future, continuing action to mitigate the effects of the spill and makes suggestions on any long-term adjustments that may be needed, including monitoring of the health status of people impacted by the spill.
Minera Yanacocha is owned by Newmont Mining Corporation of Denver, Colorado; Minera Buenaventura of Peru, and the IFC. It is the largest gold mine in Latin America in the province of Cajamarca in Northern Peru.
On June 2, 151 kilograms of liquid mercury was spilled from a truck delivering mercury mined as a by-product of gold at Yanacocha, to a warehouse in Lima, to be sold to a vendor. The mercury was spilled along the main highway from Cajamarca to the coast, including in the communities of San Juan, Choropampa, and Magdalena. Almost 300 people were found to have suffered some degree of mercury poisoning.
The independent commission was asked to establish the events relating to the spill of hazardous substances and the reasons for the spill. The Independent Commission was chaired by Manuel Rodriguez, former Minister of Environment in Colombia.
The Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) was established in June 1999 to receive complaints of people directly affected by projects financed by IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The CAO reports directly to the President of the World Bank Group, James Wolfensohn.
The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
Questions related to the Independent Commission should be addressed directly to the Office of the CAO.
Contact information for the Office of the CAO

Phone: (202) 458-9452, (202) 458-5237

Fax: (202) 522-7400