1.         City of Potosí (Bolivia (Plurinational State of)) (C 420)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1987

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/420/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-2010)
Total amount approved: USD 53,785
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/420/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

USD 10 000:World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS technical mission in 2005 financed by the Spanish Funds-in-Trust for World Heritage

Previous monitoring missions

November 2005: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Technical mission; November 2009: WHC meeting; February 2011: UNESCO/ICOMOS technical mission to the World Heritage property following the collapse of a part of the summit of the CerroRicoMountain.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Potential degradation of the historic site by continued and uncontrolled mining operations in the CerroRicoMountain;

b) Instability and risk of collapse of the Cerro Rico;

c) Deficiencies in conservation: special attention required for the restoration and upgrading of structures with residential use and the archaeological industrial heritage;

d) Inefficient enforcement of protective legislation;

e) Environmental impacts on the river which in turn affects the historic fabric and the local population. 

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/420/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

The State Party submitted a succinct report on 29 March 2012 that provides an update on actions implemented in response to Decision 35 COM 7B.120.

The final report of the geophysical study was received by the World Heritage Centre on 28 March 2012 and contained a report dated 30 January 2012 from the Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL).

a) Implementation of emergency measures identified by the 2011 Technical Mission

The State Party reports that the following emergency measures were takenin relation to the geotechnical and stabilization studies for the CerroRicoMountain:

i)  The report of the first phase of the geophysical and stabilization study of the CerroRicoMountain undertaken by the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy, dated 12 August 2011, was submitted by the State Party. It includes the mapping of cavities found in the mountain and the geotechnical and stabilization study (Phase I) prepared by SERGEOTECMIN, a decentralized entity of the Ministry. The recommendations made by the study include: (i) the necessity to complete as a matter of urgency, the measurements of galleries in order to dispose of updated data and exact coordinates of the location of the mine entries and their dimensions; (ii) the urgent need for a detailed topography of the mountain which will allow the localization of the mine entries and other specificities which are affecting the mountain, as a tool for monitoring; (iii) the need to sensitize the miners to ensure that they use modern technology in the design of galleries, blasting systems and extraction, systems of extraction of minerals and sewage systems.

The study concludes that only when adequate and precise topography and measurements are available can the second phase of the geotechnical and stabilization study of Cerro Rico commence.

ii)  Creation of the Emergency Committee for the Safety of the CerroRicoMountain in December 2011, which includes representatives from the following Ministries: Cultures, Mining and Metallurgy, Environment and Water, Presidency and Foreign Affairs. The report states that this entity is still evaluating the various Ministry reports for the development of a Strategic Emergency Plan for Cerro Rico. No information was provided on the terms of reference for the operation of the Emergency Committee; however, it has held six meetings and produced two reports which were submitted to the World Heritage Centre;

iii)  Signing of an agreement with the Manquiri Mining Enterprise by the Ministry of Cultures which will allow work on the consolidation and protection of the top of the mountain and the conservation of old mine remains for future tourism activities;

iv)  Presentation of a project by the Corporacion Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL) for the consolidation and protection of the top of the mountain; this project will have a cost of USD 2,700,000 and will be supported by the local government and COMIBOL. No further details or a proposed course of action were provided for this project. The report also states that the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy will be involved in the development of projects for the consolidation of the mountain;

v)  A report dated 30 January 2012 presented by the Regional Director of COMIBOL on the suspension of exploitation works on the mountain was also submitted. In this report, it is also stated that based on the recommendations made by the geophysical study, legal measures have been taken against illegal mining activity at the property. No information was presented on amendments to Supreme Decree 27787 or on the monitoring system to assess conditions of stability.

b) Development of a participatory Management Plan for the property and the official submission of the buffer zone

The State Party reports that a seminar will be held in April 2012 to initiate a process for the development of the Management Plan for the property and also for the delimitation of a new buffer zone. The seminar will also evaluate the work of the Emergency Committee for the Safety of Cerro Rico, as well as the various tourism projects to be developed by private entities. As for the delimitation of boundaries for the property and the buffer zone, this is expected to be submitted within the Retrospective Inventory process of the Periodic Reporting exercise of the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the establishment of the Emergency Committee for the Safety of the Cerro Rico, as well as the plans for the development of a Strategic Emergency Plan for the property. They would also encourage the involvement of stakeholders and representatives from non-governmental organisations concerned with the protection of the CerroRicoMountain and the City of Potosi.

They note the completion of the geophysical study and consider its recommendations important in further identifying the anomalies affecting Cerro Rico, and also in undertaking a more complete analysis. In particular, the study recommended performing or conducting seismic refraction profiles in the mines directly on ceilings or floors of the galleries to check the speed values and if possible, drilling exploratory wells to verify the physical characteristics of the resistivity and seismic anomalies of the mountain, and based on the collected information, creating a three dimensional model covering the entire Cerro Rico in the range of elevations studied.

They note the various projects planned to ensure the consolidation and structural stability of the mountain, and also the legal measures put in place to halt illegal extraction, but note that there is no updated information on the changes to Article 6 of Supreme Decree 27787. They also note that no information was provided on the undertaking of a comprehensive topographic study and the installation of a monitoring system to assess the stability of the mountain at monthly intervals.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the progress made in addressing the unstable and dangerous conditions of CerroRicoMountain, but wish to highlight to the Committee that further information is needed on how the recommendations of the geophysical study will be implemented and the proposals for stabilizing the top of the mountain.  Given the urgent need to ensure the safety of existing mining activities, they recommend that the Committee reiterate its request to install as soon as possible, a monitoring system to assess the stability of the mountain at regular intervals. They also recommend to the Committee that in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, or in case that no intervention will be undertaken as a matter of urgency to prevent any further collapse of the summit of the mountain, to consider the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.96

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.120, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.   Acknowledges the submission of the Geophysical study of the Cerro Rico Mountain;

4.   Notes the creation of an Emergency Committee for the safety of Cerro Rico Mountain which will be responsible for the development of a Strategic Emergency Plan, and urges the State Party to finalize this Strategic Emergency Plan as soon as possible;

5.   Encourages the State Party to consider widening the scope of the Emergency Committee to involve stakeholders and representatives from non-governmental organizations concerned with the protection of the Cerro Rico Mountain and the City of Potosi;

6.   Requests the State Party to clarify whether Article 6 of Supreme Decree 27787 has been modified and to halt all exploration, extraction and any other interventions under and above ground between altitudes 4400m and 4700m;

7.   Also notes that a project has been developed to consolidate the top of the Mountain and also requests the State Party to provide further details on the scope and extent of this project and its time-frame for implementation by 30 September 2012

8.   Also notes with concern that no information has been provided on putting in place a comprehensive topographic study and a monitoring system, and also urges the State Party to install as soon as possible a system for monitoring the safety of the existing mining activity on a regular basis and provide information on the development of a topographic study;

9.   Further requests the State Party to complete the geophysical study following its final recommendations in order to further identify the anomalies affecting Cerro Rico, to undertake a more complete analysis, and to elaborate a three dimensional model covering the entire Cerro Rico in the range of elevations studied;

10.  Requests furthermore the State Party to finalize the development of the participatory Management Plan for the property and upon completion to provide an electronic copy of the draft revised Management Plan for review by the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS;

11.  Invites the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies for review, any proposals for development at the property, prior to approval and implementation, in accordance to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

12.  Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013, with a view to considering, in the case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, or in case that no intervention will be undertaken as a matter of urgency to prevent any further collapse of the summit of the mountain, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.