Health Or Jobs: Peruvian Mining Town At A Crossroads

Health or jobs: Peruvian mining town at a crossroads

La Oroya, Peru, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 30th Nov, 2022 ) :The Peruvian mining city of La Oroya, one of the most polluted places in the world, is seeking to reopen a heavy metal smelter that poisoned residents for almost a century.

The Andean city, situated in a high-altitude valley at 3,750 meters (12,300 feet), is a grey, desolate place.

Small houses and shops -- many abandoned -- cluster around towering black chimneys, surrounded by ashen mountain slopes corroded by heavy metals and long devoid of vegetation.

In 2009, the gigantic smelter that was the economic heartbeat of La Oroya went bankrupt, forcing residents to leave in droves and bringing local commerce to its knees.

Since 1922, the plant processed copper, zinc, lead, gold, selenium, and other minerals from nearby mines.

If the metallurgical complex reopens, as announced by its new owners in October, it could breathe life back into the economy.

"The large majority of the population is eager and has waited a long time for this to start up again, because it is the source of life, the economic source," said 48-year-old taxi driver Hugo Enrique.