Copper Production in the High Peruvian Andes: Geology, Economics and Politics

THis page authored by Jimm Myers, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming. The activity described is my own work.
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This is a multiweek lab case study that focuses on the production of copper in Peru. During week 1, students construct a hydrologic model for the region of a proposed open copper pit mine and consider the impact of the mine's proposed dewatering plan on regional water sources. In week 2, students consider the impact of the water demands for copper processing on other stakeholders. The third week of the case students simulate the planning process for CONAM, Peru's environmental protection agency, to develop environmental regulations for SO2 emissions from copper smelters. In the final week of the case study, students will form political parties and craft a position on how the copper resources of the country should be developed. They will craft a stump speach for the preseidental candidate and the class will conduct a secret ballot to see who wins the election.

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Learning Goals

Given the wide ranging nature of the different modules of this case study, students will gain a knowledge in a diverse content areas: geology, hydrology, environmental regulation and politics. They will practice critical thinking skills and development of models and position papers. Some of the modules involve written reports and all require oral presentations.

Presently, environmental justice is not explicitly addressed in the case study. It is a logical component for the last two modules.

Context for Use

This case study can be taught as a whole over a 4 week time period or as individual stand alone sections. It is best with upper division classes. Background readings for each module are provided on the class Web site. No special equipment is necessary. Students should understanding geology and processing of copper and general hydrologic concepts.

Description and Teaching Materials

All the background and material necessary for the lab are freely available on the web site. It can be found in the section Lab Schedule. Student charge for SO2 emission rule making (Acrobat (PDF) 105kB Mar21 13)
Student charge for presidential campaign (Acrobat (PDF) 194kB Mar21 13)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Oral presentations and written reports are used to assess student work. There are multiple rubrics for each different module. Rubrics can be obtained by contacting the author.

References and Resources

All the student materials needed for the case study are freely available on the class web site.