Mining giant Chinalco, which operates the Toromocho Project in Peru, built a town to resettle the population of Morococha to enable the extraction of copper from beneath the ground where some 5,000 people once lived. The move was celebrated as a triumph in community relations, but six years on the new settlement has no economic future and is fast becoming a ghost town.
In the chilly mountains of Peru’s central highlands, more than 4,700 metres above sea level, the demands of the last inhabitants of Old Morococha – 65 families who resist resettlement – hang frozen in the air. For the past six years, they have been living with the tremors, dust and noise of detonations at the Toromocho mine, operated by Chinese company Chinalco, which has invested US$4.476 billion in the megaproject. Heavy machinery has now razed most of the village’s buildings, making it resemble a war zone.