The Puno Department is a high plateau region of southeastern Peru, nestled on the shores of Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian border. The people of this region are primarily indigenous Quechua and Aymara people who rely on a chiefly agricultural lifestyle based on quinoa, potatoes and alpacas. The region is also incredibly rich in mineral resources. Many land concessions have been made by the Peruvian government to international mining companies to extract these minerals. Between 2002 and 2010, the amount of concessions increased by 279% in the Puno department.
In April 2006, the United States and Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which they planned to implement on 1 February 2009. The United States required that Peru make certain regulatory changes in law to allow access to the Amazon rainforest before implementing the FTA. In late 2006, President Alan García passed Law 840, known as the “Law of the Jungle,” which undermined the collective property rights of indigenous groups by giving land concessions to foreign investors.
In February 2010, U.S.-based Newmont Mining Company proposed a joint venture with the Peruvian company Mina Buenaventura to build the Conga mine, a new gold mine, in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Newmont proposed investing $4.8 billion in the project, the largest investment in Peru’s history, and the mine would become the second largest gold mine in the world. Newmont hoped to begin production in either 2014 or 2015, upon getting permission from the Peruvian government. Newmont submitted an environmental impact study for the Conga mine, which the Peruvian government approved.