Marble mining: Peru holds top-grade mineral reserves in Junin

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Miguel Rolando Salazar, engineer and entrepreneur dedicated to the extraction of marble and travertine in Chongos Alto, explains that between 100 and 120 cubic meters of both non-metallic minerals, about 300 tons, are removed daily, which is still very little compared to the whole potential of the site.

Currently, the operation is done by hand. After completion of this process, all the raw material is brought to Lima in huge blocks that weigh between 10 and 12 tons each.

Marble and travertine are used as ornamental stones for construction and decoration, both interior and exterior. Both are used for building facade of buildings and mansions, apartments, pool edges and more.

Government support
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism (Mincetur) and Pro Inversion, Junín has interesting areas to be explored, as is the case of non-metallic mining. It is known that the region has about 216 registered sites and 27 companies engaged in the exploitation of marble, travertine and silica, most of them located in Chongos Alto.

Recognizing this, the regional government has launched a project aimed at promoting marble and travertine exploration and mining in order for it to generate income for small entrepreneurs in the sector. In the meantime, last year it created the Regional Institute of Marble, which trains people of 19 communities in five provinces of the region. A pilot industrial plant will also be installed.

The effort of this institution, added to others like the Italo Peruano Fund, has achieved valuable contributions. It has contributed significantly, for example, to that in December 2009 the country consolidated marble and travertine exports for $20 million.

However, more help is needed for the activity to take off. Efrain Solis Gonzalez, representative of the Peruvian exporting Natural Stone Distribution, said that the development of the extraction of marble and travertine needs more government support, specifically in the construction of roads that allow access to the quarries. He explains that the extraction process can be modernized if modern cutters and water systems are used.

The Figures

100 dollars is the average price of a ton of marble as raw material sold in the quarries of Junin.

100 hectares of land is the area available for every small business owner who wishes to mine travertine and marble, after completing the appropriate reports to regional authorities.

Three dollars per hectare is how much the land costs to mine the non-metallic minerals.

Italians recognize Junin granite’s quality
During mid-march, a seminar on marble and travertine was held in Huancayo, an example of the regional government’s efforts to promote the development of the extraction of the minerals.

In addition to the participation of small and medium Peruvian entrepreneurs, this meeting was attended by Italian officials and businessmen interested in learning more about the activity in Junin. They had the opportunity to tour Chongos Alto. Visitors included the director of the Institute of Foreign Trade of the Italian Embassy, a representative from the Marble Institute of Milan, and marketing specialist of marble and travertine in the United States, Mario Adriani.

“Peru has the raw materials and we have the technology. Together we can develop an industry for the most demanding markets of the world,” said Rosella Evangelisti, of the Italian Embassy. She added that Peru should not compete with countries that sell cheap products of inferior quality, but instead seek to enter markets that pay what the product deserves.

Adriani said that he has witnessed the interest in the Mantaro Valley products that various parts of the world are starting to show because they are strong and very compact.

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