Cerro de Pasco: a town that is disappearing due to mining

Cerro de Pasco: a town that is disappearing due to mining

What happens when streets, squares and buildings start to disappear in a city?

This is the case of Cerro de Pasco, capital of the district of Chaupimarca and at the same time of the province of Pasco, located at an altitude of 4380 m in the highlands of the Peruvian Andes. It is here that the steady expansion of the “open pit” mining method has devoured the urban fabric, causing permanent damage to the territory as its public spaces, heritage buildings and, consequently, its history , disappear.

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The city of Cerro de Pasco is an emblematic case, as it shows the consequences of the uncontrolled growth of mining activity in the territory, causing the marginalization of inhabited areas, serious contamination of water resources, loss of natural spaces, among other disasters. As a result, in 2008 the relocation of the city was declared “of public utility and national interest”, which to date has not been achieved.

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via shutter. Image © Jonathan Chancasana

Faced with this particular scenario, in his article “Cerro de Pasco and the paradox of development: imagining a transition to post-extractivism for a territory in extractive dependence” published by the Ibero-American social platform, the architect Flavio Vila presents a possible scenario in which the participation of the regional administration with the population is carried out in order to generate a just and livable city, without the need to move it.

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via shutter. Image © Jonathan Chancasana

To this end, the article analyzes the case using various theoretical and conceptual tools, which are divided into three main sections, thus achieving a comprehensive diagnosis. The first section focuses on a chronological analysis of the mine located in the middle of the city, studying the events from the colonial era to the republican era.

In a second section, the city of Cerro de Pasco is studied under the concept of the “new rurality”, highlighting how the “open pit mine” caused negative effects on various groups of the population, as well as on the collective memory of the city. Subsequently, the third section invites us to imagine the city in a post-development context, ending with a proposal to re-imagine Cerro de Pasco “towards a horizon of socio-environmental justice and biodiversity conservation”.

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via shutter. Image © Jonathan Chancasana

The article aims not only to raise awareness of the consequences of the lack of regulation in cities where aggressive mining expansion rules their destiny, but also to show how proposals can be made in which the population can coexist in harmony with the technical extractive.

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Imaginando una transición al poseextractivismo para un territorio en dependencia extractiva. Image Courtesy of Flavio Vila

This is why the publication ends with a mention of various topics of debate for future regulatory agendas and policy initiatives. On the other hand, it is pointed out that although Cerro de Pasco is a particular case, the scenario of urban expansion around an open pit mine has already begun to be replicated, as is the case of the CCPP in Colquijirca, located 8 km south of the mine.

In conclusion, the author mentions: “I believe that our territories must remain, evolve, be inhabited by worlds and be the space where living and non-living beings relate symmetrically. They must be imperishable, welcoming us as our Mothers , who were there before we were born, and leave because we are ephemeral”.

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Imaginando una transición al poseextractivismo para un territorio en dependencia extractiva. Image Courtesy of Flavio Vila

For more information Click here to review the full article.

About William J. Harris

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