The conflict between the people of Chumbivilcas and the mining companies Ares SAC and Hudbay over the Azuca, Crespo and Constancia mines dates back to 2009. The chief causes for concern in this conflict land and water use[i]. The province of Chumbivilcas in the Cusco region is a key mining area, as of 2009 95% of the territory was granted as concessions to mining companies. The increase in mining concessions places huge strains on local water supplies and adversely affects the livelihoods of local farmers[ii]. Community groups from the three towns came together to form el Frente Único de Defensa de los intereses de Chumbivilicas. At the First Provincial Congress on Mining in February of 2009, the group called for the regional and central governments to revoke mining concessions in the zone, and to protect local agriculture which would suffer due to high water use by the mines[iii]. When the governments declined to do so, across the region the people responded with ten days of protests, culminating in an accord concerning water use in the region and the beginnings of a dialogue process[iv]. However, many were frustrated and angry at the slow pace of change and they began to renew talks with the company in 2010[v]. These talks broke down once again and blockades resumed in February, 2012, in which 200 police officers confronted protesters with batons and tear gas[vi].
The government of Peru has subsequently suspended Hudbay’s operations later that month, stating that a more thorough environmental study had to be conducted before operations could resume[vii]. The company insists that it maintains good relations with the community[viii].