In June 2000, a contractor to Minera Yanacocha spilled 151 kilograms of elemental mercury along a 41-kilometer stretch of road between a mine site and the town of Choropampa in Peru. Local people were exposed to the contaminant, unaware of the health risk it posed. The World Bank Group was involved in the project through its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). In July 2000, IFC’s newly created independent accountability mechanism, CAO, oversaw an independent investigation into the spill, which was followed by a 5-year CAO dialogue process to help address conflict between the communities and the mine.
CAO is an independent office where people who believe they are impacted by IFC and MIGA projects can voice their concerns and see them addressed. Through its three functions, Dispute Resolution, Compliance, and Advisory, CAO facilitates the resolution of complaints, improves environmental and social project outcomes, and fosters accountability and learning to enhance IFC/MIGA performance and reduce the risk of harm to people and the environment.