Peru is one of the richest countries in South America in term of raw materials: It has the world’s largest known copper resources and is one of the largest producers of gold and silver. However, the mining boom does have its drawbacks: Use of obsolete technologies and lacking environmental standards result in immense water consumption and extensive chemical pollution of the environment. The Georg Agricola Technical University (THGA), Bochum/Germany, is therefore supporting the foundation of a post-mining department at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, PUCP), one of the country’s most prestigious universities. At the PUCP’s invitation, THGA President Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kretschmann attended the Expotecnomin congress in the Peruvian capital Lima in July 2016 and also visited mining sites in the southeast of the country (Figure 1).
“Heavy metals such as mercury, which are required for preparing metal ores, are contaminating many of Peru’s rivers,” explains THGA President Kretschmann. “This leads to health problems for the population and loss of agricultural land.” Rainforest regions, such as Madre de Dios which Professor Kretschmann visited on the initiative of Professor Mario Cedrón from the PUCP’s Mining Technology Department, are among those affected.
“As in a number of other emerging markets with rapidly expanding mining industries, dealing with the consequences of mining has been neglected in Peru. The foundation of a post-mining department at the PUCP is therefore particularly important in order to lay the foundations for sustainable mining. We can use our expertise to support the foundation of this department in a partnership,” continues the THGA President.
In his presentation, “Post-mining activities in the German coal mining industry”, Kretschmann explained to the Peruvian audience of experts some of the activities conducted by the THGA Post-Mining Research Centre, which, since its opening in 2015, researches and develops technologies and processes for handling the consequences of mining responsibly. The THGA has been committed to this field of research for a long time in an international context too. In addition to countries producing raw materials in Southeast Asia, the emerging mining industry in South America creates a second focal point for this work. The THGA already cooperates with other universities including the Universidad de Atacama in Copiapó, Chile, and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá and Medellín (Colombia). (THGA/Si.)