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Acid Plant Database   September 15, 2021

Owner Doe Run Peru

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Background Complex originally built in the 1920's by a US company and was known as Cerro de Pasco
Also known as Cerro Corporation (CICSA)
1974 - The Peruvian government nationalized the operation and made it part of Empresa Minera del Centro de Peru (Centromin)
1997 - Sold to Doe Run as part of Peru's privatization of industry
2007 - Doe Run Peru began a new relationship as an affliliate of our former parent.   The Doe Run Company of St. Louis, Missouri.  They are now equal and independent entities but still with a shared vision of becoming a global provider of premium metals and services.
Location La Oroya
Website www.doerun.com.pe 
Plant Zinc Plant Lead Plant Copper Plant
Coordinates* 38º 15' 37" N, 90º 22' 37" W (site) 11° 31' 32.5" S, 75° 53' 52.5" W 11° 31' 24" S, 75° 54' 2" W
Type of Plant Metallurgical Metallurgical Metallurgical
Gas Source Zinc
Lead Sinter Machine Copper
Plant Capacity 1967 - 170 MTPD 375 MTPD
58,500 Nm3/h (dry), 6.3% SO2
1008 MTPD
SA/DA 1967 - 2 SA 3 SA 3/1 DA
Emissions - - -
Status Operating
Temporary Shutdown June 3, 2009
Restart: 2013
Temporary Shutdown June 3, 2009
Restart: 2013
Under Construction
Year Built 1967 2008 2010 expected completion
Technology MECS Fleck Chemical Gas Cleaning: Fleck Chemical
Contact Section: Chemetics
Contractors Panamerican - -
Remarks Extensively revamped in 2007 Estimated cost of plant: $50 million

- Estimated cost of plant: $160 million ($71 million report elsewhere)
- 40% turndown capability on gas volume

Site Elevation: 3810 m (12500 ft) ASL

Pictures   Doe Run Peru - La Oroya 2.jpg (59168 bytes)  Doe Run Peru - La Oroya 3.jpg (100290 bytes)
-         Doe-Run-Peru-Cu1.JPG (51071 bytes) 
General Doe Run Peru is a mining and metals company that employs some 3,000 people at its operations in Peru’s central Andes.  The company has run the La Oroya metallurgical complex since 1997 and the Cobriza mine in Huancavelica province since 1998.  Together they produce high-quality refined metals while at the same time working to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Reference Sulfuric Acid Today, Fall/Winter 2008
News December 9, 2020 - Doe Run: Board of Creditors postpones the death throes of La Oroya Metallurgical Complex.  Minem postpones approval of the ordinary liquidation process. Indecopi could take action on the matter in its capacity as the administrative authority in charge.  In a quick session - of just five minutes - the Board of Creditors (JA) of Doe Run Peru decided to postpone the key point of its agenda today: the approval of the change of destination of the mining-metallurgical company, from liquidation in progress to ordinary liquidation.  That is, their entry into a new process in which the employment relationship with the 1,700 workers is cut, as well as the labor debt that has been climbing since 2012, and which today amounts to US $ 108 million (double the amount at the beginning).  Luis Sierralta, Doe Run bankruptcy administrator, explained to this newspaper that what was being done today was to regularize the change of destination to ordinary liquidation, because the liquidation process underway had ended on November 18.  In other words, it was a matter of formalizing an obvious legal fact, as recognized by the same lawyer for the metallurgical workers of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex (CMLO), Douglas Valdivieso.  "There is no possibility that the Board of Creditors decides to maintain the change of destination, because the law establishes a maximum term, which expired and was extended by the pandemic until November 18, 2020," he said.  Precisely, it was his clients who starred in the notorious blockade of the Central Highway at the height of La Oroya last weekend.  Its requirement: the dation in payment (transfer) of the CMLO and the extension of the ordinary liquidation.  It was at their request that the Ministry of Energy and Mines (Minem), the main creditor of Doe Run (with 49%), agreed to postpone the decision on the change in the modality of the liquidation.  According to Sierralta, what is open now is the possibility for Indecopi to declare the ordinary liquidation in compliance with the bankruptcy law.  Meanwhile, the workers who request the dation in payment of the CMLO (52% of the total) await the help of the Congress of the Republic, which has promised to extend (for the fourth or fifth time) the term of the liquidation in progress of Doe Run.

June 18, 2020
- Nueva La Oroya to restart La Oroya smelter in 2021.  Doe Run Peru, the bankrupt metals smelting operation in La Oroya, Junin, Peru, is to pass into the hands of its worker creditors after more than 10 years of trying to find a buyer for the assets.  Nueva La Oroya, a company formed by the worker creditors, will take control of the La Oroya metallurgical complex in settlement of the monies owing to them, estimated at about US$35 million, and with the intention to restart operations, which were suspended in February.  The plan was agreed by creditors in January, including the Peruvian state as the largest creditor. Total debts are estimated at about $150 million.  Former and current workers have until June 30 to accept the settlement offer.
  Worker representative Luis Castillo said the new company planned to undertake about 45 days of maintenance to prepare the facilities for a restart, which will commence with the lead circuit, then the zinc circuit and finally the copper circuit, which requires the construction of a sulphuric acid plant.  The new owners will also look to reinstate workshops for mining equipment maintenance and repair, a service the complex formerly offered mines in the region.  "We are going to open for all the Central region so it will no longer be necessary to take equipment to Lima, but to La Oroya," he said, reported Gestion.  Doe Run Peru was formerly owned by US billionaire Ira Rennert, but the La Oroya complex closed almost a decade ago after the company ran out of funds during the global financial crisis.  Authorities are keen to revive the metallurgical complex which they say will boost Peru's mineral exports. However, a series of failed auctions meant that a buyer could not be found.

January 16, 2020
- Doe Run Peru odyssey to finally end.  The decade-long liquidation process of Doe Run Peru looks set to end after creditors agreed an action plan to provide a definitive solution for the La Oroya smelter and Cobriza copper mine.  Under the creditor agreement—which has the support of the Ministry of Mines and Energy—the Oroya assets will be transferred to a new company called Nueva La Oroya which will be owned by workers as labour creditors. This will take place before June 30.  The Cobriza copper mine, which has capacity to produce 20,000 tonnes per year of copper concentrate, will be sold through an auction process.  Doe Run Peru entered liquidation in 2009, since when various processes have been run to find buyers for Oroya and Cobriza.  Cobriza in Huancavelica suffered a run of serious incidents in 2019 including worker deaths and tailings spills.
  Doe Run Peru was accused of negligence by local officials in December 2019 after the death of three workers believed to have been caught in a tailings landslide. The operation experienced a previous tailings spill in July.

May 3, 2018
- Workers at Peru’s La Oroya polymetallic smelter are in talks with more than two companies interested in partnering with them to restart operations at the nearly 100-year-old plant, a union leader said on Thursday.  La Oroya had been operated by Doe Run Peru, a unit of the U.S.-based Renco Group, from 1997 until the company went bankrupt in 2009 and its assets were transferred to a group of former creditors.  The group of creditors agreed this week that the workers union could buy the smelter along with a small copper mine, Cobriza, which had also been owned by Doe Run, in order to keep the two assets from being liquidated.  The union has until mid-June to find an investor to pay $90 million to help them buy the smelter and Cobriza, said Luis Castillo, the head of the union.  Castillo said workers had already started negotiations with two Peruvian companies and foreign investors. “It won’t be easy but we think that we’ll have the money and an investor by June 15,” Castillo said by phone, declining to name the companies.  A further $100 million in upgrades would be needed so lead and zinc smelting can resume, Castillo said. Copper smelting would need more in investments and time to restart, he added.  The town of La Oroya where the smelter is located in Peru’s central Andes was once named one of the 10 most polluted places in the world by the Blacksmith Institute environmental group. Hundreds of children in La Oroya have been found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.  Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who resigned amid corruption allegations last month, relaxed sulfur dioxide emission limits to cut the cost of investing in upgrades in smelters. But six attempts to sell La Oroya in an auction failed to draw any offers.

July 26, 2017
- Peru's nearly 100-year-old polymetallic smelter La Oroya failed to draw any offers on Wednesday in the last of six scheduled auctions, delivering a blow to President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's plans to expand the Andean country's metals refining capacity.Kuczynski had extended the liquidation deadline for La Oroya a year ago and vowed to do his best to revive it. But no one tried to buy the smelter in auctioning that started in March, even after the government raised sulfur dioxide emission limits to reduce the cost of upgrades.La Oroya will be liquidated unless Kuczynski extends the deadline again, said Pablo Peschiera, director of consulting firm Dirige that has been tasked with finding a new operator.Dirige has asked Kuczynski for another year to try to find a buyer, Peschiera said, adding that investors are still concerned about potential liability for pollution in surrounding soils.The town of La Oroya next to the smelter was once named one of the 10 most polluted places in the world by the group the Blacksmith Institute. Hundreds of children in La Oroya have been found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.Earlier this month, the environment ministry asked for input from the public on possible changes to rules on polluted sites."That (proposed) norm is extensive and will require a study by us and by investors as well," said Peschiera. "There wasn't enough time to overcome" the obstacles.The failed bid to sell La Oroya sets back Kuczynski's goal of raising the value of Peru's mineral exports by refining more concentrates at home. Kuczynski has said he hoped to revive La Oroya while encouraging investors to build a new smelter near Peru's southern coast.Peru is the world's No.2 copper, zinc and silver producer.Doe Run Peru, controlled by New York billionaire Ira Rennert's Renco Group, was La Oroya's most recent owner, but it went bankrupt in 2009 without finishing mandatory upgrades. The smelter is now controlled by Doe Run's former creditors. 

May 1, 2017 It’s a fairly common tactic in Peru to issue a significant or potentially controversial decision or resolution when you hope no one is paying attention. 24, 26 or 31 December, for example. The Environment Ministry (MINAM) recently adopted that ploy by releasing, just before the Easter week holiday, proposals to dramatically roll back certain air quality standards across the country.  The draft National Environmental Quality Standards for Air propose maintaining the maximum legal limits for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, lead and benzene, but doubling the limit for some particulate matter. Most startling, they propose increasing the limit of sulfur dioxide by more than 12 times.  MINAM effectively claims that Peru is the global leader in sulfur dioxide limits because it is the “only country in the world” which meets World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations. That limit is 20 micrograms per cubic metre over a 24 hour averaging period, compared with 210 in Australia, 250 in Chile and Colombia, 288 in Mexico, 300 in Canada and 365 in Brazil, according to the ministry. Elsewhere in the world - although these are not acknowledged by MINAM - the limit is 150 in China, 125 in the EU, 131 in South Korea and 80 in India.  The current proposal is to raise Peru’s limit to 250. One justification is that “no clearly defined link exists” between sulfur dioxide and negative impacts on human health, MINAM claims, according to its interpretation of research by the WHO, the US’s Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada, among others.  Further justifications are that no other country in the world has a limit as stringent as 20 and adopting it was a mistake out of touch with “national reality.” It isn’t being complied with, the ministry argues, and therefore undermines the public’s faith in government and the law. “[The 20 limit] was adopted in a very short timeframe without a solid technical and economic argument and without considering sustainable development policy that involves taking acceptable risks to public health while at the same time introducing effective strategies to reduce environmental contamination,” MINAM states.  The ministry’s proposals have met with serious concern and criticism from Peru’s Congressional Commission on the Environment, Ecology and Andean, Amazonian and Afroperuvian Peoples, NGOs, and many others. Lima-based APRODEH and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) say that MINAM is ignoring scientific evidence of the “serious health harms” caused by both sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. These include lung problems and premature death - with children, the elderly and people with asthma being particularly vulnerable.  “There is overwhelming scientific evidence to conclude that sulfur dioxide pollution poses a serious health risk, particularly when the contamination reaches high levels over short periods of time, something the proposal does not take into account,” says AIDA’s co-director Anna Cederstav in a joint statement with APRODEH.  Both organisations argue that MINAM’s proposals violate the American Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties binding on Peru. In addition, the public consultation was “flawed”, they state, with too little time for discussion and the scientific basis for the proposals not made public.  That opinion is shared by the Congressional Commission on the Environment, which has written to Environment minister Elsa Galarza requesting a further 30 days for the public consultation process. The Commission is presided by Maria Elena Foronda, who has taken the lead in drawing public attention to the issue.  “In the Commission’s view any law that would reduce environmental quality standards requires a responsible and timely technical evaluation, as much by members of congress as civil society,” Foronda says. “It’s appropriate to point out that MINAM is trying to establish parameters that are weaker than those recommended by the WHO.”  Other NGOs like Red Muqui and the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA) have also issued critical statements. SPDA argues that the government is legally prohibited from weakening environmental standards, that MINAM failed to provide sufficient justification for its proposals, and that the WHO, contrary to the ministry’s interpretations of its research, has proved that sulfur dioxide negatively impacts human health.  According to Red Muqui, a collective of 29 organisations across Peru, the proposals are “regressive” and ignore WHO recommendations. MINAM failed to coordinate with the Health Ministry, they argue, and the timeframe for public discussion was too short.  “Life and health shouldn’t be dependent on economic interests,” Red Muqui states. “[The proposals] fail to consider that particulate matter is very fine and can easily penetrate respiratory tracts and blood, increasing the risk of morbidity and premature death following short- and long-term exposure.”  Former high-ranking MINAM personnel are critical too. Ex-Environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal was quoted in El Comercio newspaper saying the proposals would reduce air quality. Mariano Castro, former vice-minister, told the Guardian the proposals are “wrong”, “very risky” for Peruvians’ health, and ignore the “scientific evidence in epidemiological and toxicological studies that show the serious dangers that sulfur dioxide poses for peoples’ health.”  So why propose raising the legal limits? According to AIDA, APRODEH and anyone else following the issue, the answer is an infamous poly-metal smelter in a town in Peru’s central Andes, La Oroya, which 10 years ago was named as one of the top 10 most polluted places on earth by the US-based Blacksmith Institute.  Formally called the Metallurgical Complex of La Oroya, the smelter has been the property of Doe Run Peru since 1997, and ultimately under the control of the US’s Renco Group. It closed in 2009 and partially re-opened in 2012. Now it is administered by liquidators - and Peru’s sulfur dioxide limits are reported to be scaring off potential investors.  This is despite the fact that La Oroya has been exempted from the national 20 limit. In recent years it was raised to 80 and then to 365 for a 14 year period until it is scheduled to revert to 80 again, according to APRODEH’s Christian Huaylinos. He told the Guardian that MINAM’s proposals are “completely connected” to the proposed Doe Run Peru sale.  “[In the long-term the limit] continues being 80, which is a very demanding standard that I imagine has discouraged possible bidders for Doe Run Peru, given that it would require serious investment in new technology,” Huaylinos says. “So that’s where the issue of relaxing the standards comes in. Now they would no longer have to adjust from 365 to 80, but 365 to 250.”  Tenders have been held for Doe Run Peru as recently as March this year, but no offers were reportedly received. “Now, given the lack of offers, MINAM has put forward a law to relax the limits, the aim of which is to facilitate the next tender round,” Huaylinos told the Guardian. “[This would seriously affect] the rights to health and clean environment of the people living in La Oroya.”  The connection between MINAM’s proposals and Doe Run Peru also seems obvious to AIDA’s Victor Quintanilla, who told the Guardian that government representatives have said publicly that modifying environmental standards is part of promoting the smelter’s sale and re-opening. Such representatives include president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, congressman Moisés Guía Pianto, Environment minister Galarza, and Energy and Mines minister Gonzalo Tamayo.  On Friday Gestion newspaper stated that potential bidders for Doe Run Peru have been lobbying for changes to the sulfur dioxide limits - something that the Congressional Commission on the Environment has noted too. Pablo Peschiera, from DIRIGE, the liquidators, reportedly said that the next tenders will be held in July and MINAM’s proposals would save investors huge sums.  “Under the previous [current] standards an investment of US$788 million [in the smelter] had been foreseen, and even then there was no guarantee of meeting the 80 standard,” Peschiera was quoted as saying in Gestion. “There was a low probability of complying even after making that investment. Now [if MINAM’s proposals are approved], with the limit being 250, the amount needed to invest will be lower.”  Liliana Carhuaz, an Oroya resident and member of the Movimiento por la Salud de La Oroya (MOSAO), told the Guardian she rejects MINAM’s proposals and believes the sulfur dioxide limit should be 20. She said that local people didn’t agree with the suggested changes either, and she cited respiratory problems and lead poisoning as ongoing health impacts.  “After so many years of contamination in La Oroya [the ministry’s proposal] to increase the permitted levels is not just,” she says.  Last year, just before the end of the previous government, MINAM published a dossier on Doe Run Peru which included six reasons why air quality standards shouldn’t be weakened, although it acknowledged that the contamination in La Oroya was so severe that it would be impossible for the smelter to ever meet any standards, no matter how “flexible.” The dossier cited Health Ministry statistics from 2007 saying that during some hours the sulfur dioxide levels reached 28,300 and average daily emissions were over 2,000 - which MINAM alleged was one of the reasons why Doe Run Peru hadn’t yet been sold.  “It’s clear that with daily emissions and yearly averages such as these, La Oroya, if its copper circuit is working, wouldn’t even comply with the most flexible environmental standards in the world,” stated the dossier, dated July 2016.  In comments sent by AIDA and APRODEH to MINAM as part of the public consultation, they noted that the proposed 250 limit would permit severe short-term spikes in contamination. “With the new proposed daily average (250 micrograms per cubic metre), it would be possible to have every day a period of two hours of contamination at a level of 1,500 and another five hours of contamination at 500 without exceeding it,” the two organisations stated. “However, it is known that these levels of contamination are severely dangerous to human health.”  Mariano Castro believes that this is a key weakness of MINAM’s proposals: there are no limits for short periods of time - just one hour or three hours - which would prohibit severe peaks in contamination. In Colombia, he says, the limit for 24 hours is 250, as proposed for Peru, but crucially there is also a limit for three hours set at 750.  “Without this [750] limit on short-term peaks, you could get up to levels around 2,000 for several hours over a 24 hour period and never exceed the daily limit,” Castro told the Guardian. “The dangers to human health and the environment would be irreversible. Under no condition should an increase in the 24 hour limit be permitted if an appropriate limit for just one hour is not established, as in other countries.”  Fernando Serrano, a scientist at Saint Louis University in the US who has conducted research in La Oroya and testified before US Congress about it, agrees with Castro. “The proposed new air standards for sulfur dioxide don’t include a hourly standard and therefore don’t hold the smelter responsible for the hourly peaks that are far greater than anything that is acceptable,” he says. “The most effective way to protect people’s health and environmental quality is to reduce smelter emissions through technical measures and to enact and enforce air quality standards and other regulations that prevent health and environmental risks.”  Serrano describes the La Oroya smelter as for years “serving a toxic cocktail of metals” including lead, cadmium, arsenic and air pollutants like sulfur dioxide. “This mix of contaminants has gravely affected the health of the people of La Oroya and surrounding areas,” he told the Guardian. “The only time people enjoyed a cleaner and safer environment - low sulfur dioxide levels, decreasing blood lead levels - is when the smelter closed, which shows that it is the primary source of contamination.”  The appalling health impacts of the smelter on La Oroya’s inhabitants have been reported for many years, with the government concluding almost two decades ago that more than 99% of children living nearby suffered from lead poisoning. A series of legal actions have been taken against the Health Ministry in Peru, against the Peruvian state at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and against Doe Run in the US.  Peru’s Congressional Commission on the Environment is scheduled to discuss MINAM’s proposals tomorrow, 2 May, and has requested Environment minister Galarza to attend.  MINAM did not respond to questioons.


April 12, 2017 - Peru’s environment ministry has proposed modifying laws restricting sulfur dioxide emissions to attract buyers for a century-old poly-metallic smelter.
  The Doe Run owned smelter and neighboring Cobriza copper mine priced together at $100 million have failed to find buyers at three auctions in a time of low commodity prices. Analysts say restrictive environmental regulations make the La Oroya assets unviable in an area cited as one of the most polluted in the world. The smelter requires upgrades costing over $700 million.  A new resolution proposes ten modifications including raising the sulfur dioxide limit from 20 to 250 micrograms per square foot, in line with regulations in Colombia, Chile and Mexico. The World Health Organization (WHO) guideline is 20 micrograms per cubic meter.  “The World Health Organization recommends the limit of 20 as a target value, as an ideal value, but it also establishes intermediate values. No country in the world has 20. This proposal is more in line with reality,” environment minister Marcos Alegre told Gestion.  Alegre added that the new standard will generate greater competitiveness in Peru’s economy and “also protects health.”  The La Oroya district in Peru’s highland Junin state, home to 1,600 La Oroya workers, will likely be abandoned if the smelter and mine operations fail. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has
 vowed to save the smelter while diversifying Peru’s mining sector from production to value-added services.  The request to ease environmental regulation comes from workers and potential investors suggesting that both are awaiting the regulation change while the government schedules more auctions before August. Current owner Doe Run went bankrupt after the 2008 global financial crisis.  The La Oroya district found infamy after TIME magazine ranked it on its list of “The World’s Most Polluted Places.” The health ministry revealed 99% of its children have over three times the safety level of lead in their blood. The toxic metal damages mental development and causes comas, convulsions and death.  According to a study by the WHO in Hong Kong where large-scale reductions in sulfur dioxide have been a success, decreasing child respiratory diseases and all-age mortalities.

April 9, 2017
- Peru's La Oroya polymetallic smelting plant has been for sale since the company who owned it went bankrupt in 2009. So Peru is proposing to loosen air quality standards in some parts of the country to attract buyers, despite the plant's dirty past.The decision by the Andean country's Environment Ministry late Saturday is actually nothing new. In January 2017, a proposed auction of the La Oroya smelter, supported by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, drew the interest of five companies.  But the interested parties were turned off by Peru's air quality standards. At the time, the prospective buyers were aware of the possibility of changes to the regulations and decided to hold off on bidding until they could see for themselves what would come of the new standards.  However, according to Reuters, the government's new proposal is serious and would include changing several parts of the country's environmental quality standards, including raising the sulfur dioxide emission limit to levels in line with other countries in the region including Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.  The country is desperate to sell the plant, as well as a small copper mine. The government is planning a new series of auctions before an August deadline for selling the facility. The proposed standards have been pre-published and are now open for a 10-day public comment period.  Of course, the proposed standards change does not mention the need to sell the smelter, but to some environmentalists, it looks like Peru is putting the environment second over economic growth, something President Trump has done in the United States.  La Oroya was bought by Doe Run, (whose parent company was The Renco Group, Inc.), in 1997 for US$247 million. The company also bought a small copper mine, the Cobriza copper mine, south of La Oroya, for US$7.5 million. Until Doe Run took bankruptcy in 2009, they owned 99.97 percent of La Oroya.  La Oroya was made up of a copper and lead smelter and zinc refinery. The plant also dealt with 'dirty concentrates' produced by a number of local mines They included gold and silver, antimony, arsenic trioxide, bismuth, cadmium, indium, selenium, tellurium, sulfuric acid, and oleum.  Problems started right away with Doe Run. Until their purchase of the company, La Oroya had been run without any concern for the environment, and consequently, the landscape around the plant looked like a moonscape because of the sulfur dioxide residues.  Doe Run signed an environmental contract with the government that gave them 10 years to install remediation measures to curb emissions from gasses, particulates, and polluted water and clean up around the smelter and its waste dumps.  www.digitaljournal.com

January 13, 2017
- Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's efforts to revive a nearly 100-year-old smelting complex could overcome a crucial hurdle at a coming auction where five companies have shown interest in placing bids.  But celebration is far from universal given the sprawling smelter's toxic legacy and Kuczynski's criticism of environmental rules.  Reviving La Oroya, nestled in a destitute region in Peru's central Andes at nearly 3 800 m, would mark an early victory in Kuczynski's plan to ramp up the country's smelting capacity to wring more value from mineral shipments that make up at least half of  overall export earnings.  Such exalted goals are of little comfort to some La Oroya residents like Sonia Ponce, who worries the government will not do enough to prevent a repeat of the smelter's dirty past. Its smokestacks once spewed so much smoke that midday sometimes appeared to be evening, lacing the soil with heavy metals to a depth of two feet (60 cm) in some parts of town.  Hundreds of children in La Oroya have been found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood, including Ponce's grandchildren, who once had to spend their days in a different town to reduce their exposure and today cannot keep up with schoolwork.  "They're constantly fatigued," Ponce, 56, said from her home in a hillside slum in La Oroya, blaming the smelter. "It's very sad to see young people grow up sick. No one can give them their health back."  At the same time, scores of La Oroya residents have been agitating for a full revival of the smelter, which ground to a halt in 2009 but has since restarted some zinc production.  Dismissing pollution concerns as exaggerated, they say the town, which has already lost a quarter of its population, will wither away without it.  "It's terrible to live like this," said Marisela Perez as she waited for customers in her grocery shop. "There's no work and businesses are closing."  Finding a new owner for the smelter while ensuring a cleaner operation will be a key test for Kuczynski, 78, who once ran a mine in West Africa for Alcoa, as he seeks to "modernise" the Andean country to cap an illustrious career in finance and public administration.  Five companies, including Chinese-owned steel waste  recycler GreenNovo Environmental Technology, have signalled interest in buying the smelter in three days of auctions starting March 10, said Luis Castillo, a workers' representative in the group of creditors overseeing the sale.  Kuczynski said last year the smelter would be able to process copper concentrates from Chinese miner Chinalco's nearby Toromocho mine that contain arsenic levels that surpass Chinese import limits, forcing it to pay special fees.  When the smelter's most recent owner, Doe Run Peru, controlled by New York billionaire Ira Rennert's Renco Group, operated La Oroya, sulphur dioxide emissions sometimes surpassed the daily limit of 365 micrograms by a factor of ten, according to a report by the environment ministry.  "It used to import highly contaminating material to feed the smelter that ended up in the city and in residents," said Luis Egocheaga, the former manager of state clean-up agency Activos Mineros that is still working on removing pollution from soil in La Oroya.  Doe Run Peru went bankrupt without finishing mandatory environmental upgrades, saying it had invested heavily to try to transform a creaking unit that had previously been under state control for decades.  A 2015 auction failed to draw any bidders as potential buyers fretted over liability for lingering pollution, labour contracts for some 2 200 workers and an estimated $700-million needed to clean up copper smelting, said Pablo Peschiera, the director of consulting firm Dirige, which is in charge of the bidding.  But Kuczynski, who declined requests to be interviewed, has said it would be cheaper to revive La Oroya if emission limits were looser, calling current standards an obstacle to investment in smelters.  While Peru's national sulphur dioxide limit is far stricter than Canada's, current law allows La Oroya to comply with a looser standard until 2029.  Kuczynski's government has said it is revising environmental rules.  "We want the metallurgical complex to be reactivated, but in an environmentally and socially responsible way," said La Oroya Mayor Carlos Arredondo.

October 6, 2016 - Peru’s government will likely ease sulfur dioxide emissions limits to attract investors to an auction for the La Oroya polymetallic smelter in early 2017.  The director of Dirige, the company managing the liquidation of the bankrupted Doe Run Peru’s assets, told Reuters that an auction for the historic smelter and the Cobriza copper mine in the central state of Junin will be auctioned off in the first quarter of 2017.  “It is difficult to ensure that the two units will be auctioned at the same time,” Pablo Peschiera said. “We will present them together until the board of creditors allows a piecemeal sale.”  Peschiera said that the final selling price for both the smelter and mine would likely be around $100 million, and legally required upgrades to the smelter would require $700 million more in investment. He added that Dirige is lobbying for the government to absolve the new operator from Doe Run’s environmental fines.  El Comercio reports that at least six companies are evaluating a bid, including Chinese state mining firm China Nonferrous Metal Mining (CNMC), a joint venture between Greennovo and ZincOx (EETAC), Southern Peaks, Global Resources Solutions, Stellar Mining and Capital Partners.  A former Doe Run Peru lawyer told El Comercio that the Chinese companies EETAC and CNMC were most likely to win the auction. China is the world’s largest consumer of copper and Peru’s top trading partner. But China’s tightening environmental legislation prohibits the refining of metals heavy in contaminants such as arsenic.  China’s state mining firm Chinalco, which operates the Toromocho copper mine also located in Junin, recently received a cash injection of $325 million as it struggles with billions of dollars in liabilities driven by environmental fines due to arsenic content in its copper concentrates. Chinalco’s director in Peru told Gestion that the copper from Toromocho is high in arsenic, antimony and other impurities.  A labor union representative told Gestion that there were nine companies evaluating the auction, and that his organization had already met with officials from Greennovo.  “EETAC has visited La Oroya seven times and they have a technical team of eight metallurgists from Greennovo doing due diligence now,” a source close to the board of creditors told El Comercio in July, adding that Stellar Mining and Capital Partners are only interested in Cobriza.  Doe Run Peru declared bankruptcy in 2009 when the financial crisis sent commodity prices tumbling and the company could not get credit to purchase concentrates for refining. The company has over $600 million in liabilities, including $500 million in fines for not complying with environmental standards and at least $90 million to local mineworkers.  An attempt to auction off the La Oroya smelter and Cobriza copper mine in 2015 received no bids, which analysts attribute to low prices for copper, Peru’s strict emissions limits and Doe Run’s pending liabilities.  After the failed auction mineworkers in La Oroya held protests which resulted in one dead and dozens injured to demand the government take action to save the smelter, without which the town of 30,000 would likely be abandoned.  While President Ollanta Humala’s government extended Doe Run’s bankruptcy by decree in order to give the liquidation process another year until a new government took office in 2016, it refused to relax emissions standards to the levels of Chile and Canada recommended by investors and workers.  Environmentalists point to the lead contamination in and around La Oroya, which gained international notoriety when TIME Magazine ranked it the fifth most polluted city in the world due to “dangerously high concentrations” of lead in the local children’s blood.  President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in August backed a bill which ultimately changed Peru’s bankruptcy law to buy more time to find a buyer for La Oroya. He has advocated loosening the sulfur dioxide limits in La Oroya to attract a buyer. His economic plan calls for Peru moving beyond mining into value-added services such as refining.


Peruvian Town Faces Another 14 Years of Air Pollution from Mine - Mongabay

July 11, 2014 - Peru's La Oroya metallurgical complex halted all operations until August 9 because of a lack of concentrates supply, an official said Friday.  The former Doe Run Perú unit, which restarted zinc and lead production in 2012 after bankruptcy halted operations for three years, lacks both concentrates and capital to continue operating, Rocío Chávez, representative of smelter administrator Right Business, told BNamericas.  The smelter sent home 1,500 workers and only brought in management and emergency maintenance staff, Chávez said. Workers would be paid, she said, adding that the company's Cobriza copper mine was operating normally.  "We still haven't managed to line up supply, so this has sparked a force majeure," Chávez said. "The situation at the smelter is very difficult."  The smelter's unions scheduled assemblies later Friday to discuss the measures, Lima-based newspaper La República said. And they may, after earlier this month postponing a strike originally called for July 21, block roads and take over public buildings to protest a company plan to lay off 750 workers, the paper added. (BN Americas)

June 18, 2014 - A group of creditors for Peru's La Oroya metallurgical complex aim to put the zinc-lead smelter up for sale by December, an official said.  The former Doe Run Perú unit, which restarted zinc and lead operations in 2012 after bankruptcy halted operations for three years, is also holding talks with Trafigura Beheer and Glencore to secure lead supplies after slumping metals prices discouraged suppliers from selling concentrates to the smelter, said Rocío Chávez, representative of smelter administrator Right Business.  Creditors including Glencore, Trafigura, Pan American Silver, Buenaventura, El Brocal and Volcan, who last year hired Swiss investment bank UBS to sell the La Oroya complex and its Cobriza copper mine, met June 9 in Lima to discuss the sale, Chávez told BNamericas Wednesday.  "According to the timetable for the sale of Doe Run's assets presented by UBS, between November and December we should identify the operator interested in signing the transfer contract," Chávez said. "But there isn't a definite date."  About 444 of the smelter's 4,000-strong workforce have accepted incentives to retire as part of a cost cutting plan, Chávez said. However, the steady decline in copper prices has sparked "millions" in losses, as the Cobriza copper mine accounts for most of the smelter's revenues, Chávez said.  If talks with concentrates suppliers are unsuccessful, Right Business will inform the board of creditors, which should reach a decision at its next meeting in mid-July, she said. The smelter owes about US$600mn to a group of about 100 creditors.  "After metals prices fell in March, Doe Run's finances felt a major impact and we have a negative cash flow in 2014," Chávez said. "That meant suppliers didn't want to provide us with concentrates until the situation improves."  La Oroya, the only poly-metallic smelter in South America, can produce 122,000t/y of lead and 43,000t/y zinc, according to Peru's energy and mines ministry (MEM). Cobriza produced 19,578t copper in 2013.  Built in 1922 by the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, and acquired in 1997 in a privatization process by Doe Run, La Oroya halted its operations in 2009 after metals prices collapsed. La Oroya has the capacity to produce a dozen different metals, including copper and silver, but failure to meet environmental standards has shuttered the copper circuit. (BN Americas)

December 10, 2010 - Doe Run Peru will be required to build a $100 million plant to retain sulphuric acid emissions before it can restart copper production at its shuttered La Oroya smelter, Energy & Mines Minister Pedro Sanchez said.   The government may cancel the smelter concession after the Renco Group Inc. unit, which filed for bankruptcy last year, failed to reach an accord with creditors, Sanchez told reporters today at the ministry.  “The company must comply with its environmental cleanup plant”, Sanchez said.  “The other option is for creditors to run the smelter.”  Doe Run shut its Peruvian zinc, lead and copper smelter last year after metals prices plunged at least 50% in London in 2008.  Doe Run Vice President Jose Mogrovejo didn’t return two telephone calls and an e-mail seeking comment.  Peruvian metals output may decline next year before Xstrata plc and Cia. Minera Antamina SA complete expansions at their copper mines in 2012, Sanchez said   Copper production fell 2.5% and gold dropped  11% through October, according to the ministry.

March 1, 2010 - Doe Run Peru S.R.L. has reached a Letter of Intent with Glencore to support the re-start of metallurgical operations in La Oroya, Peru.  Through this Letter of Intent, Glencore will supply a line of credit that may be used as a working capital facility to help re-start the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex and as part of the financing that will allow for the completion of the Environmental Adjustment and Management Plan (PAMA) that Doe Run Peru has agreed with the Government of Peru.  This Letter of Intent has closed an important step in the process to restart operations in La Oroya. Doe Run Peru will continue to strengthen its efforts to make this re-start come true in the shortest time possible.  The company has ratified its intention to build a long term solution to continue to meet its environmental commitments and further improve the quality of life for the population and the future generations.

January 30, 2010 - Peru's mining, oil and energy association (SNMPE) said Saturday it has expelled US mining company Doe Run from its roster for not cleaning up its pollution problems, which environmentalists say are among the worst in the world.  "It has not shown... any willingness to comply with its environmental commitments and its obligations to the country, its workers, the La Oroya population and its creditors," SNMPE said in a statement.  Doe Run in 1997 took over La Oroya mining complex and the Cobriza copper mine in Peru's central Andean mountain region, where it mines for lead, copper, zinc, silver, gold and a series of byproducts including sulfuric acid.  The US company's La Oroya mining operation was listed in 2007 by the international environmental group Blacksmith Institute as the sixth worst polluted site in the world.   SNMPE said expelling Doe Run from the association would not affect its mining business, but noted that the company was presently in "a serious financial crisis."  The association said Doe Run had notified Peruvian authorities it would be unable to comply with an environmental clean-up program it assumed when it began working in Peru.   The Energy and Mining Ministry said Doe Run had only complied with 52 percent of the 2006 PAMA environmental program in La Oroya and needed another 160 million dollar investment to complete it according to plan.  SNMPE said Doe Run's "lack of interest in completing PAMA violates the association's ethical principles and code of conduct," earning it its expulsion.  The US mining company had already been suspended from SNPE in late June.

January 14, 2010 - Doe Run Peru, the zinc and lead producer that filed for bankruptcy in August and is controlled by billionaire Ira Rennert, said it is seeking a “strategic partner” to finance the reopening of its shuttered smelter.  “We’re holding talks with several companies that could help out with financing,” Doe Run Peru Vice President Jose Mogrovejo said today in a telephone interview. “There’s a lot of speculation right now.”   Doe Run, a unit of Rennert’s Renco Group Inc., closed its La Oroya smelter June 2 after suppliers refused to sell it raw materials. Banks halted lending in February after copper, zinc and lead prices fell at least 49 percent in London in 2008.  Lima-based newspaper Caretas reported today that Rennert is holding negotiations to sell the La Oroya smelter to Glencore International AG. Mogrovejo denied that Doe Run plans to sell 100 percent of the smelter.  Marc Ocskay, a spokesman for Glencore, declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News.  Peru’s government said today it seized $14 million that Doe Run had placed in an escrow account as a guarantee it will complete an environmental cleanup. Doe Run has 27 months to build a $160 million sulfuric acid plant to reduce sulfur emissions at its smelter, the Energy & Mines Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

September 24, 2009 - Peru's congress has granted the financially troubled U.S.-owned Doe Run Peru smelter a two-and-a-half year extension to reduce toxic emissions, allowing the company to miss a second deadline to clean up the Andean town of La Oroya.  Doe Run closed the plant in June after lenders cut credit lines amid sagging metals prices. The company agreed to complete three sulfuric acid treatment plants by 2006 when it bought the smelter from state-run Centromin in 1997.  Peru's government initially said it would hold firm on an October deadline, but last week ministers asked Congress for an extension demanded by workers protesting to reopen the plant.  Congress approved the extension Thursday with 74 votes in favor and nine against.

September 17, 2009 - The Peruvian government is ready to give bankrupt U.S.-owned smelter operator Doe Run Peru an additional 20 months to comply with the Environmental Clean-Up and Management Program, or PAMA, Environment Minister Antonio Brack said Thursday.  The official Andina news agency cited Brack as saying that Energy and Mines Minister Pedro Sanchez told him the extension for Doe Run will be part of a bill soon to be sent to Congress.  “This is so Congress decides the extension of the PAMA by 20 months, because we believe they should also give their opinion,” Brack said after taking part in a mining convention in the southern city of Arequipa.  Doe Run, which declared itself insolvent early last month and is engaged in a restructuring, has already spent $400 million on a plant to treat sulfuric acid residues generated by its smelter.  The firm took out an ad in Peruvian newspapers Thursday to plead its case for an extension of the PAMA deadline.  But the president of Peru’s National Mining, Petroleum and Energy Society, or SNMPE, said Doe Run must offer financial guarantees that it can comply with PAMA as a condition of any extension.   Hans Flury added that Doe Run will remain suspended from the SNMPE until the company demonstrates that it can eventually execute the PAMA program.  Doe Run Peru, a subsidiary of U.S. conglomerate Renco has operated the La Oroya smelter – which produces lead, zinc, copper, silver and gold, as well as byproducts such as sulfuric acid and indium – in the central region of Junin since 1997 and the Cobriza copper mine in the Huancavelica region since 1998.  Amid the global financial crisis, Doe Run Peru was forced to pare down its operations to a minimum, saying it lacked sufficient funds after a group of foreign banks cut off its credit line in March.  After Economy Minister Luis Carranza stepped in and mediated, the SNMPE announced on April 2 that its member companies would extend a $175 million credit line to enable Doe Run, a unit of U.S.-based Renco Group, to resume operations.  Even with the loan, the La Oroya plant never returned to previous production levels and shut down completely several times, provoking protests by employees.  Doe Run has been a frequent target of criticism due to the high levels of toxins emitted by its smelter, which has made the nearby city of La Oroya the most polluted city in the Americas.

September 16, 2009 - The La Oroya Multi-Sector Commission, of which the environmental minister and deputy minister of mines are members, recommended granting a 20 month extension for Doe Run Peru (DRP) mining company to comply with the Environmental Management and Mitigation Program (PAMA). During this period, to begin only after the company receives new funding, DRP will have to build a sulfuric acid plant and modify the copper circuit currently used. If completed, this controversial recommendation will be the third time that the DRP has received an extension to comply with PAMA.

July 17, 2009 - Bloomberg reported that Peru’s government rejected a proposal by Doe Run Peru to reopen its shuttered lead and zinc smelter.  Peru’s government said that it will not agree to delay a deadline for an environmental clean up unless the company puts up 100% of its shares as a guarantee. The Energy and Mines Ministry said that the subsidiary of the Renco Group needs to spend at least USD 100 million as compared with the USD 31 million proposed last month.  Banks froze Doe Run’s accounts in February after metal prices collapsed and the smelter halted all operations on June 2nd because it couldn’t buy the raw materials needed. Copper, zinc and lead prices plunged at least 49% in London last year, leading to USD 124 million in company losses.  Mr Jose Mogrovejo VP of Doe Run said that "We’re studying a new proposal for suppliers and the government to be discussed in a meeting later this week. We hope to reach an agreement on this as soon as possible."  Mr Fernando Gala deputy mining minister of Peru said that US billionaire Mr Ira Rennert Renco’s owner must inject cash for the smelter.  The government rejected the company’s proposal to use a prior USD 18 million guarantee and tax rebates to finance part of its USD 156 million debt to suppliers. The government may extend an October 31st clean-up deadline if the company commits USD 150 million over an 11 month period. Doe Run proposed a 30 month period to build a sulphuric acid plant to curb emissions.

June 3, 2009 - U.S.-owned mining company Doe Run shuttered its Peruvian smelter on Wednesday, likely costing 3,500 jobs and threatening the closure of scores of small mines as it struggles to finance operations.  Doe Run Peru called the temporary closure "inevitable," saying it hasn't been able to find funding to "normalize operations, pay creditors, and complete the final project" in a required environmental cleanup, according to a statement published in local newspapers.Doe Run Peru, a subsidiary of New York-based holding company The Renco Group, has faced serious financing problems since March, after its lenders cut a $75 million credit line amid sagging metal prices.
A group of Peruvian miners and banks stepped in with a $175 million loan in April, but the smelter has since operated at 30 percent capacity, "leaving the company in an increasingly unfavorable economic situation," its statement said.  The 82-year-old smelter processes copper, lead, zinc and smaller amounts of gold, silver and other metals. Doe Run acquired it from government-owned Centromin in 1997, agreeing to build three sulfuric acid treatment plants to lower toxic emissions.
Doe Run says it has spent $300 million on the cleanup so far, but it has also delayed its completion by three years. Its current deadline is set for October, but construction on the third treatment plant stopped in March.  On Wednesday, the company asked for "flexibility" from the government in completing the cleanup at a "realistic and satisfactory" cost and time.  Energy Minister Pedro Sanchez in April said the government would be flexible, noting that Renco had injected $165 million into the company and offered all its shares in the smelter as collateral to guarantee the cleanup.

April 2, 2009 - Doe Run Peru reached an agreement with suppliers to resume operations after banks halted funding to the lead and zinc refiner in February, Peruvian Finance Minister Luis Carranza said.    Doe Run Peru, a unit of Renco Group Inc., which shut 95 percent of its operations last week, will restart its smelter “soon,” Carranza said today in a press conference in Lima. A group of mining companies agreed in government-brokered talks to lend Doe Run Peru $75 million and provide $100 million of concentrates, he said.    “This was entirely a private solution,” Carranza said. “The government didn’t put up a cent.”  Banks halted financing to Doe Run on Feb. 24 after metals prices collapsed because of the global economic slowdown. The move forced about 30 lead- and zinc-mining companies in the Peruvian central highlands to seek other buyers for their raw materials. Peru is the world’s largest producer of silver, the third-largest miner of copper, zinc and tin and No. 5 for gold.

March 20, 2009 - Renco Group Inc.’s Doe Run Peru unit, the country’s fourth-largest exporter, has shut zinc- and lead-processing plants after a group of banks froze its accounts last month, curtailing the nation’s metal supplies.    Doe Run Peru stopped buying concentrates for its La Oroya smelter in the central Andes, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed by spokesman Victor Belaunde. The company may also close its Cobriza copper mine, Luis Castillo, general secretary of the Mining Federation, a group that represents 28,000 miners, said in a March 18 telephone interview.  “The company doesn’t have any working capital despite making money over the past four years,” Castillo said. “We will meet with Energy & Mines Ministry officials to find out if the company can be saved.” Belaunde, the Doe Run Peru spokesman, said the company is working on a solution with banks and declined to comment further.  The collapse of metals prices caused by the global economic crisis forced about 30 other mining companies in the Peruvian central highlands, the country’s biggest producer of zinc, lead and silver, to seek other buyers after banks “froze” financing to Doe Run on Feb. 24, according to the memo. The freeze prompted Doe Run to halt payments to suppliers the next day.

August 29, 2007 - Doe Run Peru said Monday it has begun the engineering design phase of a $71 million sulfuric acid plant for the copper circuit at the company's La Oroya metallurgical facility. The new plant, which is scheduled to be operational in late 2009, is expected to further reduce emissions at the La Oroya metallurgical complex and bring them well below governmental limits.   Earlier this year Doe Run Peru announced that lead and arsenic emissions from the 80-year-old facility are down to within monthly Peruvian environmental guidelines.   The new plant is the third and final stage of the last of nine projects encompassed under Doe Run Peru's environmental operating agreement with the Peruvian government.   Earlier stages of the sulfuric acid project included upgrades to the zinc circuit plant (completed at the end of 2006) and the construction of the lead circuit plant (begun in July 2007).  "Doe Run Peru continues to operate under agreed-upon timetables and remains committed to environmental awareness and operations that benefit the city and community of La Oroya," said Juan Carlos Huyhua, president and general manager of Doe Run Peru.  Construction on the new copper circuit plant is estimated to be completed by October 2009. Doe Run Peru's first steps on the effort have included contracting industry leaders Fleck Chemical Industries Inc. and Aker Kvaerner to look into the specific engineering requirements necessary for the project, including the necessary teams, design, materials, control systems and instrumentation.  So far, Doe Run Peru has invested more than $132 million on various environmental improvements, well in excess of the initial agreed-upon amount of $107.5 million. Once the PAMA projects are complete the company's related investment is expected to reach $244 million, nearly 2.4 times the initial figure.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

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