Protecting Lake Perol

Protecting Lake Perol

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An Andean woman uses her hat to sip water from Peru's Lake Perol, which protesters are fighting to protect. Demonstrators circled the lake high up in the Andes to show their opposition to a $5 billion gold project of Newmont Mining, which eventually plans to drain the water to make way for Peru’s most expensive mine.

The lake is one of several that would ultimately be displaced, and have their water transferred to reservoirs.

. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Many protesters arrived at Lake Perol on foot or on horseback, some wearing ponchos, as well as traditional broad-brimmed straw hats or baseball caps. Others carried blankets and bags of potatoes and rice - planning to camp out at the site for weeks to halt the project.

U.S. Company Newmont Mining and its Peruvian partner, Buenaventura say that transferring water from the lakes to four reservoirs that they are building or planning to build will end seasonal shortages and guarantee year-round water supplies to towns and farmers in the area.

But many residents fear they would lose control of the water or that the mine would cause pollution.

"Why would we want a reservoir controlled by the company when we already have lakes that naturally provide us water?" asked Angel Mendoza, a member of a peasant patrol group from the town of Pampa Verde.

The Conga mining project - which many in the business sector see as essential for the country's bustling economy - has sparked violent protests in the past.

This demonstration, however, was largely peaceful and there were no clashes with police, though a handful of protesters threw rocks and set fire to a wall near one reservoir.

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Slideshow

An Andean woman sits on horseback as she takes a break during a march against Newmont Mining's Conga project.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

An Andean woman sits on horseback as she takes a break during a march against Newmont Mining's Conga project.

Andean protestors march along the banks of the lake during the demonstration.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Andean protestors march along the banks of the lake during the demonstration.

An Andean woman drinks water from Lake Perol using her hat.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

An Andean woman drinks water from Lake Perol using her hat.

Protestors march along the lake.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Protestors march along the lake.

Jose Rojas flavours coca leaves with lime as he chews them while taking a rest during the demonstration.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Jose Rojas flavours coca leaves with lime as he chews them while taking a rest during the demonstration.

A young man smokes a cigarette as he takes a break at the march.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

A young man smokes a cigarette as he takes a break at the march.

Protestors raise their hands in the air as they walk by the lake.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Protestors raise their hands in the air as they walk by the lake.

Police officers stand guard near one of the entrances to Newmont Mining's Conga project.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Police officers stand guard near one of the entrances to Newmont Mining's Conga project.

An Andean man talks to a police officer during the demonstration.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

An Andean man talks to a police officer during the demonstration.

A group of Andean people take rocks from reservoirs near a Conga project dam.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

A group of Andean people take rocks from reservoirs near a Conga project dam.

Protestors set fire to a wall near a reservoir built by the Conga project.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

Protestors set fire to a wall near a reservoir built by the Conga project.

The frame of a sign that marked the location of the project stands mostly destroyed.
. CAJAMARCA, Peru. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

The frame of a sign that marked the location of the project stands mostly destroyed.