Big Mineral has made big investments in Peru, where the government has leased some 45,000 square miles of Andean highlands for mining. But Peruvians are getting fed up. When residents of a town called Rio Blanco took an unofficial vote on Monterrico Metals’ plans for a $1.4 billion copper mine in their backyard, 95 percent voted against it, arguing that mining brings them polluted rivers instead of jobs and community development. Environmental regulation of the industry is deservedly suspect in the country, as it comes not from an environmental agency, but from Peru’s mining ministry. Monterrico is awaiting results of an environmental-impact study; the Peruvian government said the results of Rio Blanco’s vote were unrepresentative and denounced its organizers as “communists.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.