Blog Entry

Hudbay Denies COVID-19 Infections at Constancia Mine – Peruvian Organization Responds

On August 4th, Peruvian organization Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras-Cusco (DHSF) published a note on its web site responding to a statements made by Hudbay Minerals, first to a local newspaper, then during its AGM, and finally in a letter written to the Business and Human Rights Centre, denying an outbreak at its Constancia mine in Peru.

On June 1st, in response to a joint press release by MiningWatch Canada and DHSF, which identified a COVID-19 outbreak at the Constancia mine, the company was interviewed by The Reminder, a local paper in Flin Flon, Manitoba, where Hudbay is currently closing down its operating mine. In that article, the company denied the allegations, claiming that the reporting was “inaccurate”, noting it was based on rapid testing which, although demonstrating positive results, required a further round of molecular testing which, it claimed, subsequently proved the results to be negative. 

Then, on June 22nd, following the publication of the report: “Voices from the Ground: How the Global Mining Industry is Profiting from the COVID-19 Pandemic”, the company wrote an open letter to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, repeating its public denial of the existence of COVID-19 positive cases at the Constancia mine, citing a technical issue of the accuracy of the results and refusing to recognize that local health authorities are in fact taking those results as positive and treating them as such. 

Here, we have translated DHSF’s response to the company’s letter, which outlines the irregularities between Hudbay’s reporting practices to its shareholders and what is being stated by public health officials in Peru. DHSF notes that public health officials are continuing to report that 42 workers have contracted the virus at the Constancia mine, figures which the company has yet to report on publicly.

Statement from Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras

Hudbay and the Denial that its Workers are Infected with COVID-19

In the middle of this pandemic crisis, the Hudbay mining company has twice denied having infected workers, despite the fact that the Chumbivilcas COVID authority had issued information of positive cases in the Constancia camp. 

In a report from the Chumbivilcas Health Services Network (RSSCH, from the Spanish) of the Health Intelligence Directorate, dated July 6th of this year, it is reported that 42 people have tested positive through rapid testing in the Livitaca district where the Constancia mine (Chilloroya) operates. This report contrasts with the letter issued by Hudbay to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, an institution dedicated to the defence of Human Rights in the United Kingdom.

The letter, dated June 22, states: “To be clear, we have not yet had any confirmed COVID-19 cases among workers at our operations. To understand our situation and the information that is being circulated, it is important to distinguish between individuals who fail an initial screening, versus those individuals who have subsequently been confirmed to have COVID-19 as a result of a molecular test. It is also necessary to distinguish between the screening of incoming workers (who have not yet been at our Constancia mine site) and the screening of workers who are at our site.” This letter denies the RSSCH statement issued on April 27, 2020, where it is reported that there are cases of infected mining workers, also listing the responsibilities for adequate epidemiological containment. This first communication is no coincidence; it is the response to an institutional communication by Hudbay issued the day before, on April 26, where they again deny positive cases at their Constancia Mining Unit. For more regarding these communications, see:

In his speech yesterday, before Congress, [Prime Ministerial nominee] Pedro Cateriano said, “Mining is undoubtedly the backbone of Peru’s economy.” And this seems to be the government’s main mantra before and during this pandemic, given that President Vizcarra’s speech on July 28 voiced a similar sentiment. This is reflected in the concessions and facilities that are given to this sector, without taking into account the health of workers and their families.

See the original statement here: 

[statement translated by Leslie Dolman]