Questions about the Reactivation of the Metallurgical Complex of La Oroya - Peru

Questions about the Reactivation of the Metallurgical Complex of La Oroya - Peru

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By Agustín Mamani Mayta

When the “macro emitter” company was in normal operation, the presence of heavy metals in the human body of the oroin population was above 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood. With more than two years of shutdown of the metallurgical complex, the quality of the air improved notably, the concentration of sulfur dioxide was reduced by 99.5% and there was a considerable reduction of heavy metals in the human body.

"Peru may have one of the seven wonders of the world, but it also has one of the most polluted cities on the planet"


The managing company of the La Oroya metallurgical complex has been inoperative since June 2009 due to economic insolvency; in this period of time, situations arose that are trapping the reactivation, as is the case of the lawsuits before the ICSID under the Peru-EE FTA. In the United States and before the Judicial Power, demanding the nullity of the INDECOPI resolution that recognizes the Peruvian State as its main creditor, without considering the lawsuit in the state of Missouri-United States of America for compensation to 118 children from Oro to the majority shareholder of the Renco group .

In order to fulfill its commitments, according to Ministerial Resolution No. 257-2006-MEM / DM to reduce the emission of particulate material with heavy metal content to the environment, the administrator installed Bag Houses (fabric filters) in operational areas with problems of fugitive emissions and / or discharges to the environment of metallurgical fumes with particulate material with high concentrations of heavy metals that contaminate the environment of the city of La Oroya and the Mantaro river basin downstream, motivating the decrease of the temperature parameter in the base of the main chimney (height 167.7 meters) and therefore a weak dispersion of gases with particulate matter remaining in the environment, causing thermal inversion problems with adverse effects on human health and biodiversity.

During the downtime of the metallurgical complex, specifically in the month of November 2011, environmental evaluations were carried out in the city of La Oroya through the "Mantaro revive" project, led by the Archbishop of Huancayo, finding that the quality of the air improved remarkably, The concentration of sulfur dioxide was reduced by 99.5% and a considerable reduction of heavy metals in the human body; 52.9% of people evaluated have lead levels below 10 µg / dL in their blood, unlike 2008, whose percentage reached only 5.91%.

This natural chelation presented in the oroin population may be affected if the restructuring plan does not contemplate the preventive actions to be considered during the first days of the reactivation process, when the furnaces / reactors operating at high temperatures will come into operation and the behavior of the main chimney that requires temperatures above 80 ° C, according to design, to facilitate a discharge and dispersion of gases with remaining particulate matter into the environment without causing thermal inversion.


The managing company of the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex (CMLO) (1) has been paralyzed for 30 months (June 2009); it is public knowledge:

1. The metallurgical complex, responsible for the emissions of more than 99% of the total emissions of sulfur dioxide, particulate material with metallic content, a fact that has led to the notification of macro-emitter by CONAM in application of current regulations (Letter 2638-2005-CONAM / PCD (12.12.2005) in compliance with Article N ° 8 of Supreme Decree N ° 009-2003-SA; Regulation of the Levels of National Alert States for Air Pollutants; Amended by Decree Supreme N ° 012-2005-SA). The SO2 emission represents 96.93% of the emissions from the metallurgical complex and 96.65% of the total emissions from La Oroya

2. In March 2009, OSINERGMIN sanctioned the company Doe Run Peru SRL with a fine of 600 UIT (2 million 130 thousand new soles); And as the bank union raised a revolving loan of US $ 75 million in April of that same year, which caused the crisis of the company to explode, which under the pretext of financial insolvency attributed to the global economic crisis, the company announces the requirement of more time to complete your PAMA.

3. It is currently in bankruptcy proceedings at INDECOPI for its reactivation, leaving the person responsible for the administration and the presence of a creditors' meeting to be defined.

4. The Peruvian state is the largest creditor of Doe Run Peru SRL with 44% of the receivables; DRP SRL in order not to accept and acknowledge its breaches with the State, appeals:

to. Legal action before the Judicial Power demanding the nullity of the INDECOPI resolution that recognizes the Peruvian State as its main creditor.

b. Sue Peru before ICSID for 800 million US dollars in compensation within the framework of the FTA with the United States;

c. He has a problem in the Missouri Court for crimes against humanity for the lives of 118 Oroino children.

d. It seeks by all means to mediate, promote the non-payment of the fines imposed by OSINERGMIN, OEFA that exceed 21 million US dollars

5. The managing company shows a workforce of 3,500 workers between payroll and contracted (PAS, Professional, Monthly and Daily). To date, he recognizes a payment of 70% of his monthly credit for his physical presence; When the reactivation process begins, its reentry to the functional operational part and components will be progressive and will take a period of time and it is assumed that the restructuring of the workforce by the company will be selective, profitable and timely.

Definition of the problem

Evaluate the impact of the reactivation of the metallurgical complex on the health of the Oroon population and biodiversity after more than 30 months of inoperability.


Show that if preventive actions are not considered during the reactivation of the metallurgical complex, the population would have its health seriously affected by the effect of the thermal inversion during the start-up of the furnaces / reactors operating at high temperatures.


The CMLO is the only operating area that operates at altitudes above 3,750 meters (2), worldwide, many smelters and refineries operate at sea level, and it is a company that processes concentrates and polymetallic minerals in copper and copper circuits. lead (3) and zinc concentrate. The cleaning process of impurities contained in copper and lead concentrates / minerals to obtain refined products, generate transfers that, according to their predominant metallic composition, are derived from independent processes to obtain by-products. Worldwide it is the only metallurgical complex that in their closely linked copper, lead and zinc circuits they produce 20 products and by-products that in the supply and demand market have a plus (additional royalties) for the quality of the products.

The CMLO, where the pyrometallurgical process prevails, most of the cleaning and transfer processing processes use residual oil No. 6 (bunker C) as fuel, the copper circuit consumes approximately 50% of the total consumption; In La Oroya operating conditions, it necessarily requires a pumping temperature of 80-85 ° C and atomization of 100-110 ° C in the furnace / reactor; It is unnecessary to mention the pipes of different diameters that transport residual oil, duly isolated by the weather conditions that calmly exceed several kilometers throughout the network and complexity of the CMLO from the storage tanks. With the start-up of the reactivation, there would be technical problems in the transfer of residual oil to the furnaces / reactors, except that before the shutdown they carried out interior cleaning work on the pipes.

The furnaces / reactors are internally protected by refractory bricks of different characteristics, sizes and quality, in accordance with the operating conditions of processing and obtaining products and by-products, they would have serious drawbacks for the start-up and dexterity of the operators after a prolonged period. shutdown period imposed by the current administration.

The metallurgical fumes from the different areas of operation necessarily converge in the Cottrell Central and Arsenic plant for the recovery of the particulate material present in the metallurgical fumes in the electrostatic precipitators that operate with 50,000 volts with an approximate recovery efficiency of 97.0 % in Cottrell Central and 94.9% in Cottrell de Arsenic; The particulate material not recovered in the cottrells systems (4) (Cottrell Central and Cottrell Arsenic) and the remaining gases are discharged and dispersed into the environment through the main chimney (5), a structure 167.7 meters high (550 feet), considered the tallest chimney in the world.

The emission capacity to the environment by the main chimney of the remaining gases and particulate matter with metallic content will continue to maintain the same volume for which it was designed, with a probable decrease in the temperature at the base of the chimney and the consequent generation of thermal inversion with adverse effects on the health of the ancient Oroya (6). With reactivation, how will it be possible to achieve a temperature close to 80 ° C at the base of the chimney and a negative pressure (forced draft) adequate to achieve the exit of the gases and dispersion at a high altitude in the environment, in the opinion of experts and professionals specialized in the matter, that as long as that temperature and pressure are not reached, there will be harmful effects on the health of the workers and population of La Oroya Antigua mainly (thermal inversion).

The current administration, in order to mitigate fugitive emissions in plants that are difficult to control operationally and apparently fulfill its commitment made in Ministerial Resolution No. 257-2006-MEM / DM, design and build Bag House (7) (baghouse filters) of different capacities according to the generation of metallurgical fumes and their quality; This considerably reduces the concentration of particulate material emitted by the main chimney, but the concentration of sulfur dioxide gas remains the same as the sum of those emitted by the main chimney and the bag Houses. With the modifications made in the sulfuric acid plant of the zinc circuit, construction in the lead circuit (in operation) and copper (under construction) respectively, their emission will be reduced by approximately 80% with the production of 98% sulfuric acid. 5% purity, among others; leaving a remaining 20% ​​of the sulfur dioxide gas will continue to be discharged into the environment.

The most important concern to be considered by those responsible for the reactivation of the CMLO, is the behavior of heavy metals (8) present in the environment during the progressive and slow reactivation of metallurgical operations. Technical studies carried out by researchers and specialists and published in specialized journals conclude, when a person contaminated and affected by the toxicokinetics of the metals present is as metal, sulfur, oxide, sulfate, complex, etc. that enters the human body (ingestion, inhalation, epidermis) and the relevant toxicodynamics of the body against these will greatly influence (age, race, emotions, diet, housing) on ​​health and biodiversity compared to the natural chelation presented in those 30 months of CMLO inoperability. The company must be transparent regarding the preventive actions against thermal inversion to be presented during the reactivation process.

What negative or positive effects will occur on the health of the Oroon population, when operations are restarted, especially with the vulnerable area "La Oroya Antigua" and the working mass included with the start-up of the reactor furnaces; A question that must be consciously analyzed in the technical and health aspects in the restructuring plan (9) prepared by the company Doe Run Peru SRL and that will be considered among the creditors for its evaluation and determination in the bankruptcy process before INDECOPI "health of the population is in the hands of the creditors ”.

When the “macro emitter” company was in normal operation until before the total stop of the CMLO, the presence of heavy metals in the human body of the oroin population was above 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood (10). The last dosing carried out and published by the "Mantaro revive" program led by the Archbishop of Huancayo (11). As of November 2011 (with more than two years of shutdown of the metallurgical complex) the air quality improved notably in La Oroya "The concentration of sulfur dioxide was reduced by 99.5%" and a considerable reduction of heavy metals in the body human ;, 52.9% of those evaluated have levels less than 10 µg / dL of lead in their blood, unlike in 2008, when the percentage reached only 5.91%.

Apart from obtaining competitive advantages (12) with the extension and / or modification of the original PAMA prepared and approved by the Peruvian government at that time. This other comment on the various fines imposed by the regulatory agencies of the Peruvian state at the time (OSINERGMIN and OEFA) that to date are unenforceable or actions for annulment before the pertinent bodies, without considering those that will come after March 27, 2012, date that is 20 months to put into operation the modernization and sulfuric acid plant in the copper circuit, by virtue of Law No. 29410 and its regulation according to DS No. 075-2009-EM and No. 032-2010-EM.


The CMLO must operate yes or yes, due to its old but adequate technology for processing polymetallic concentrates / minerals produced in the country such as those imported from other countries that do not have technology or their environmental regulations are rigid; It is the responsibility of the managing company to first comply with the Program for Environmental Adequacy and Management "PAMA", and then continue with its own and selective continuous improvements to achieve emission standards and discharges to the receiving body defined in national and international environmental regulations.

Ing. Agustin Mamani Mayta - La Oroya - Peru


(1) The La Oroya Metallurgical Complex processes on average approximately 600,000 metric tons of concentrates, of which 450,000 are polymetallic copper and lead with precious metal content and 150,000 are zinc concentrates. With these, it produces 11 metals, 9 by-products. (Source: Doe Run Peru SRL).

(2) La Oroya, known regionally as the City of Smokes and as the Metallurgical Capital of Peru and South America. The La Oroya metallurgical complex is one of the FOUR largest and most important complexes in the world, due to the treatment of polymetallic materials, its technology has relative comparison with technologies of metallurgical complexes:

• HOBOKEN of the Union Miniere Group of Belgium
• ROONSKAR from Boliden Minerals of Sweden
• DOWA Mining of Japan
• LA OROYA from Doe Run Peru

(3) Polymetallic concentrates are understood to be those concentrations and / or minerals apart from the fine content that it possesses, harmful elements that have adverse behavior within the operational process predominate (Excess water, arsenic, antimony, etc.) and generation of unfavorable effects to human health and biodiversity.

(4) Cottrells System, corresponds to electrostatic precipitators; as an industrial emission control unit. It has been designed to trap and remove particulate matter from metallurgical gases / fumes present at the exit of furnaces / reactors; after cooling with air or water to temperatures above its dew point and conditioning with gases with basic or acid content to increase its electrical conductivity. These devices are mainly used in the cement, chemical, steel, foundry, etc. industries.

(5) The conceptualized design of the Main Chimney by the Cerro de Pasco Corporation was:

To achieve a dispersion of gases with particulate matter to the environment and reduce the thermal inversion in the impact zones; From Cerro de Pasco, several studies were experimented to achieve that desired temperature at the base of the chimney.

(6) On 09/03/2008, the Union Monitoring Station located in La Oroya Antigua registered 9,103 ppm of sulfur dioxide gas, in the Inca Hotel it registered 4,065 ppm of SO2, Huanchan registered 19,840 ppm of SO2 and Marcavalle registered 758 ppm.

On 09/15/2008, the Union's Monitoring Station registered concentrations of 15,782 ppm of sulfur dioxide gas and, in the Inca Hotel, 15,096 ppm, Huanchan registered 13,337 ppm of SO2, Marcavalle registered 3,586 ppm of SO2; according to complaints filed with OSINERGMIN by Civil Society

Source: OSINERGMIN; Trades N ° 1116-2008-OS-GFM, N ° 1113-2008-OS-GFM; Response to the claim presented by the Provincial Municipality of Yauli – La Oroya; Descent of toxic fumes or gases; 11/27/2008.

(7) Bag house (sleeve filters) are filtration equipment for the separation of particulate material present in the gases, metallurgical fumes that transport them. In general, a filter is any porous structure composed of granular or fibrous material that tends to retain particulates as the gas that carries it passes through the empty spaces of the filter.

(8) The effect on health of the four most common metals found in the emissions of the Doe Run Peru SRL complex:

Arsenic: Causes irritation of the stomach and intestines, a decrease in the production of red and white blood cells, changes in the skin and irritation of the lungs. Arsenic may increase the chance of cancer, especially in the skin, lungs, or lymph nodes. High concentrations can cause miscarriage, infertility, skin rashes, loss of immunity to infection, heart disease, and brain damage.

Lead: Causes anemia and deterioration in the formation of hemoglobin, increases blood pressure, causes damage to the kidneys, miscarriages and unnoticed abortions, deterioration of the nervous system, damage to the brain, decreased fertility in men due to damage to sperm , decreased learning ability in children, behavioral problems in children such as aggressiveness, impulsive behavior and hypersensitivity. By passing through the maternal placenta, lead causes damage to the fetal brain and nervous system.

Cadmium: Damage to the lungs that can lead to death, damage to the kidney's filtration system, birth defects and possible infertility, damage to the nervous system and the immune system, psychological disorders, possible DNA damage and can lead to cancer.

Antimony: Irritation of the eyes, skin and lungs. Prolonged contact can lead to lung disease, heart problems, diarrhea, severe vomiting, and a stomach ulcer.

(9) The plan contains (…) the summary of the agreements with Glencore and Renco for financing for 200 million dollars, reference to the agreements with key mining suppliers and the labor agreements with the La Oroya and Cobriza workers ”.

(10) Decree of the Board of Directors No. 020-2006-CONAN / CD; Action Plan to improve air quality in the La Oroya air basin approved; P. 19, average of 34.9 µg / dL for children 2 to 10 years.

(11) According to the 2005 San Luis University study, carried out in agreement with the Archdiocese of Huancayo, 97% of the children under 6 years of age in La Oroya had equal to or more than 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood , the critical threshold of danger indicated by the WHO, as well as other harmful metals accumulated in their bodies.

(12) CHRONOLOGY of the PAMA extensions:

• 12/29/2004, First extension to Doe Run Peru SRL for compliance with the environmental management and adaptation program (PAMA).
• 12/20/2005, Doe Run Peru SRL requests the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to extend its PAMA until the end of 2010.
• 09/23/2009, The MEM grants Doe Run Perú SRL another 30 months to comply with its PAMA.
• 10/29/2009 The government grants the mining company 6 months to define a guarantee for faithful compliance with its PAMA.
• 03/23/2012, The Energy and Mines Commission of Congress approves a bill that would extend the term for Doe Run Peru SRL to complete its PAMA by 30 months; Approval by the full congress is lacking

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