City in Peru Being Eaten By Open-Pit Mine

Via Google Earth.

Can you find Peru on a world map? Hurry. The city of Cerro de Pasco, Peru, is being swallowed by ever-expanding, open-pit zinc and lead mine. A colonial church dating back to 1748 has disappeared, along with the town's center square. You can see the shocking, Sarlacc-like situation from satellite images, notes the Google Earth Blog.

There's a mile-wide gash in the earth that grows almost daily, with each dynamite blast, The AP reports. The Peruvian government is pushing to extract vast mineral and oil reserves from the city of 70,000, and Cerro de Pasco is caught between environmental degradation and jobs. The mine owner, Volcan Compania Minera S.A., had threatened to close the mine, and bury 4,000 jobs, before the government gave the company permission to take more of the town, including the historic church and center square.

Flickr via SkyTruth.

You'll find the same type of conflicts all over the world (see coal-fired power plant projects in the United States). In Peru, there have been deadly protests over the mining.

Besides being devoured, Cerro de Pasco also has been polluted by the mine. Dust from the operation has soiled homes and contaminated soil. Indigenous communities on the city's outskirts have quit growing potatoes and lettuce. Water is also scarce, as the 80 percent of available H2O goes to the mine, AP says.

Many people have left the city, but the poor stay, says Cerro de Pasco congresswoman Gloria Ramos.

The city is supposed to be condemned and relocated due to environmental contamination and the mine expansion, but funding and action are more than 10 years away.

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Tags: Google | Peru | Pollution

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