Source: The Guardian Unlimited
Maxima Acuña de Chaupe has won a major environmental prize for defending her land from the biggest gold-mining project in South America
Environmental activism may not have been what Maxima Acuña de Chaupe had in mind when in 2011 she refused to sell her 60-acre plot of land to the biggest gold-mining project in South America.
She did not belong to any movement or organisation but she doggedly held on to her land in spite of her claims of beatings, death threats, intimidation and court proceedings, becoming a symbol of resistance in her native Peru and above all its northern region of Cajamarca which rejected the $4.8bn Conga gold mine after five demonstrators were killed in clashes with the police in 2012.
In 2011, the Peruvian government granted a 7,400-acre mining concession for the Conga Mine to US-firm Newmont Mining, the majority shareholder, and Peruvian mining company Buenaventura. The plan was to mine two freshwater lakes for gold and copper while draining two more to use as dumps for toxic mining tailings.