Application submitted to destroy ancient Chan Chan ruins

June 28th, 2009

It almost defies belief that a mining company would summit an application to mine for iron ore in the ruins of the capital of the once powerful Chimu kingdom. The sprawling archaeological zone of Chan Chan is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest adobe constructions on earth.

Thankfully, Peru’s geological authority in charge of granting permission (INGEMMET) has no plans to approve this particular application.

Adobe city of Chan Chan

Adobe city of Chan Chan

Peru’s El Comercio newspaper reports that when the application was made, Carlos Trelles of the regional La Libertad INGEMMET office where Chan Chan is located, near the city of Trujillo, explained that he was obliged to accept it. The process of submitting applications simply allows mineral exploration proposals to be made – it is only afterwards that checks with other agencies are carried out to see if the project would affect nature reserves, agricultural areas and archaeological zones.

When the request was made four months ago to dig up Chan Chan, Carlos Trelles wrote letters to the regional President of La Libertad, the mayor of Trujillo, and the director of the National Institute of Culture (INC) so that they might responded immediately to reject the proposal.

Amazingly, not one of them has found the time to reply.

Technically, INGEMMET is now legally required to grant exploration and mineral rights to the mining company – the deadline for a decision has now passed and there have been no objections. But, of course, how could they possibly do that? They are hoping to stall for a while yet until the bureaucrats get their acts together.

The mining company at the centre of this, for their part, explain that they are not to blame. Mapsa S.A. deny knowing beforehand that the area in question was an archaeological zone, they assumed it was nearby but not on top. How could they make this mistake? Well some bright spark bureaucrat at some time or another drew up Chan Chan as “Lot 1302″ and “Lot 1303″. In the rush to sell off Peru’s natural resources, just like in the Amazon where parts of tribal lands and natural reserves and up for sale or already sold, no-one bothered to check.

Mapsa S.A. quite wisely agrees that if the lots are confirmed by authorities to be the Chan Chan ruins, they will happily drop the application.

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