Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Katia Castillo Paredes, 2008 LLM Graduate and Senior Attorney for Barrick Gold in Peru, Speaks About Peruvian Environmental and Mining Law

Peruvian environmental and mining law was recently the topic in the "Comparative Environmental Law" course when students heard from Katia Castillo Paredes, una abogada senior (a senior lawyer) from Barrick Gold Corporation's Lima, Peru office.

Ms. Castillo, who spoke to the class (meeting in Denver) from her office in Lima via a speakerphone connection, described for the students her work as an in-house attorney for one of the world's most prominent gold mining companies.

It was a particular pleasure to "host" Ms. Castillo, a 2008 LLM graduate from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, since she plays a key role in Barrick's legal department and consequently has a "front row seat" in terms of how Barrick operates in Peru as well as the challenges and opportunities the company faces.

As background, Barrick's headquarters is in Toronto, Canada. It has 26 mines and exploration and development projects across the globe. In 2009 the company's production was 38 percent in North America and 25 percent in South America. Its reserves were 40 percent in North America and 35 percent in South America.

At the outset of her remarks Ms. Castillo said, "Barrick is committed to sustainable economic development, environmental stewardship, and a culture of safety." She added that the company is committed internally to pursuing a theme of corporate social responsibility.

In Peru Barrick operates two mines, Lagunas Norte and Pierina, both of which are located north of Lima.

Ms. Castillo explained the life cycle of developing, building, and closing a mine and the important parts of each step in the process. She also described the Peruvian environmental regulatory scheme and the various governmental organizations that deal with mining regulation. Finally, she talked about the changes in mining that have come about in more recent years.

Of particular interest to the students were Ms. Castillo's comments about the need for mining companies to obtain "the social license to operate" in the communities where they work. "This refers to the acceptance of a project by the population that lives around the area," she said. "You can have all the permits required by the government, but if the local people do not want you there Barrick will not develop a project there." Therefore, to undertake a successful mining project, a company must meet all legal requirements as well as obtain the social license to operate.

Because of the wide diversity of backgrounds of students in the course -- Argentina, Japan, Nigeria, Peru, and the U.S. -- Ms. Castillo's remarks about her experience and expertise are likely to inform future projects across many parts of the world. I was especially happy about this since Ms. Castillo was one of the best students to ever have studied at the Sturm College of Law (as a matter of fact, she won a prestigious Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation Scholarship Award while she was studying in Denver), and it is a very great pleasure to see her contributing in such a major way to her company and indeed her home country.

And so from Denver I say felicitaciones a Katia y muchas gracias por tu ayuda (congratulations and many thanks for your help)! Ms. Castillo is an impressive role model for our students and inspires all of us to think about how the mining sector can be made more sustainable.

--Don Smith

No comments:

Post a Comment