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City of Potosí

Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
Factors affecting the property in 2013*
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Surface water pollution
  • Other Threats:

    Instability and risk of collapse of the Cerro Rico; Deficiencies in conservation: special attention required for the restoration and upgrading of structures with residential use and the archaeological industrial heritage

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Potential degradation of the historic site by continued and uncontrolled mining operations in the Cerro Rico Mountain;
  • Instability and risk of collapse of the Cerro Rico;
  • Deficiencies in conservation: special attention required for the restoration and upgrading of structures with residential use and the archaeological industrial heritage;
  • Inefficient enforcement of protective legislation;
  • Environmental impacts on the river which in turn affects the historic fabric and the local population. 
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2013

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

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2013
Requests approved: 4 (from 1988-2010)
Total amount approved : 53,785 USD
Missions to the property until 2013**

November 2005 and February 2011: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS technical mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

The State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property on 8 March 2013 which comprises information on the history of mining at Potosi, on the legal framework for the property and on the current situation of the Cerro Rico. Also, information was received on August 2012 pertaining to the project “Morphological preservation of the Cerro Rico – Potosi, a study carried out by SGT Consultora”, dated January 2011. A progress report by the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy, submitted to the General Director of Cultural Heritage on August 2012, was also submitted for review.

a)  Emergency Committee

The State Party reports that the Inter-institutional Committee was formed in 2007 and includes representatives from the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy, the Ministry of Cultures, the Government of Potosi, the Municipal Government of Potosi, the Autonomous University Tomas Frias, the Regional Potosi Bolivian Mining Corporation (COMIBOL), the Civic Committee from Potosi, the Federation of the Mining Cooperatives of Potosi (FEDECOMIN), the Departmental Council of Cultures, the Society of Engineers of Bolivia and the National Service of Geology and Mining Technical (SERGEOTECMIN).

The progress report submitted in August 2012 noted that the Inter-institutional Committee had resumed periodic meetings and the Autonomous University Tomas Frias had drafted a project proposal for the stabilisation of the collapse at the top of Cerro Rico. It was then mentioned that the Inter-institutional Committee would draft a final project proposal, based on the project from the Autonomous University and the action plan presented by COMIBOL in November 2011. No further details were provided in the 2013 March report regarding this proposal or the functioning of the Inter-institutional Committee.

The report does not provide clarifications on whether Article 6 of Supreme Decree 27787 adopted in October 2004 was modified and if the moratorium on all exploration, extraction and any other interventions under and above ground between altitudes 4400m and 4700m is currently enforced.

b)  Geophysical and topographic studies, stabilisation of the top of the mountain and monitoring system

The State Party notes that the tomography study for Cerro Rico is being finalised; the report analysed the geology and morphology of the mountain, mining activities, security, pollution, environmental conditions and threats to heritage and provided recommendations for each of the 3 sectors (top, middle area and lower area). To further control mining activities, a plan is being proposed to identify pollution levels and measures to protect workers. However, no timeframe for completion of these studies and the implementation of recommendations has been mentioned.

The report includes information on the serious current conditions and the four high risk areas identified at Cerro Rico, as well as identified risks within the interior of the mines. The State Party notes that on 9 November 2012 a USD 2.3 million contract was awarded to Q & Q, a Bolivian company, to carry out preservation and conservation works at the subsidence located at summit of the Cerro Rico and identified collapses. It is expected that works will be finalised in November 2013. Specifications and contracting processes for works were established; but not yet submitted for review. The report mentions that for the works, the San Luis mine was rehabilitated and that a road was built so that materials could be transported to the top. Planned safety measures are mentioned but no detail about the timeframe for their implementation has been provided.

The State Party further comments that the COMIBOL has included the preservation of the characteristics, topography and natural setting of Cerro Rico as an important objective in relation to future mining activities. No detailed information or timeframe is provided on how this intent is going to translate into actions. It also mentions current figures for mining extraction and the intent of the Ministry of Mining to develop legal frameworks to permanently control operations.

In addition, the report notes that there is a proposal, from the Maniquiri Enterprise, to establish a tourist route to visit 140 mine entrances located through the operations area, which would include visits to the Museum and the restoration of the colonial channel between the San Sebastian and Chalviri lakes. No technical details are included regarding this proposal.

c)  Management Plan

The State Party submitted information on the Master Plan for the rehabilitation of historic areas of Potosi (1991-2009) which was produced by a team of experts from both Spain and Bolivia. The Master Plan comprises the Strategic Educational Plan, the Environmental Master and Action Plan, the Reorganizational Transportation and Road Traffic Plan and the Strategic Health Plan. Additional printed documentation sent by the State Party includes the Programme for housing rehabilitation at the historic centre of Potosi, developed by the Junta de Andalucia which includes some successful cases of restored buildings; Regulations for the preservation of the historic areas of Potosi, developed in 1992 and approved by Municipal Ordinance in 1993; Inventory and Master Plan for the Ribera de los Ingenios Mineros in Potosi; and the Master Plan for the rehabilitation of the Historic Centre of Potosi, as well as the corresponding report on the results and figures for investment. 

Given that the provided documentation on the Master Plan has no date and that no further information is provided in the state of conservation report about these planning documents, it is not clear if they have been implemented, if they were reviewed or what the current status is regarding the recommendation made by the World Heritage Committee on the development of a participatory management plan. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2013

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the report on the state of conservation of the property does not provide detailed information on the implementation of the recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee to improve the security and stability of the site, as well as other conditions necessary to allow for sustainable mining activities. With the data provided, it is not possible to ascertain whether management arrangements have been successfully set in place, if the management plan has been comprehensively reviewed and updated nor the current state of conservation of the City of Potosi. Furthermore, no information has been submitted with regard to the reinforcement of Supreme Decree 27877 and the modification of its Article 6 to halt all exploration, extraction and any other interventions that might constitute a serious risk for the stability of the Cerro Rico Mountain.

They are of the view that progress has been made in undertaking the necessary scientific research to assess the current state of the Cerro Rico. However, they underscore that it is crucial to finalise the scientific studies of the Cerro Rico so that a comprehensive strategy for its stabilisation can be formulated and implemented as a matter of urgency, including systematic monitoring of stability conditions. In this respect, the cost and the availability of the technology used for the various studies will need to be considered when drafting the strategy. They note that the final reports and strategy need to be submitted for consideration and review prior to commencing implementation works.

They further note that works started in spite of the lack of a comprehensive strategy for the stabilization of the Cerro Rico. They underscore that caution should be exercised in carrying out further interventions until all requested information has been properly collated, systematized and analysed so that all factors are taken into account for informed decision-making. They recommend that the Committee express its concern about the road to the top of the Cerro Rico that might be justified to gain access to the areas identified for priority intervention but which might be conducive to continuing illegal mining operations between the altitudes of 4400m and 4700m, unless the moratorium is effectively enforced. They suggest that information should be provided in this respect and the measures currently in place to ensure that access is limited to priority emergency works.

In view of the above, the World Heritage Committee might wish to recommend that a reactive monitoring mission to the property be carried out to assess the current conditions and to evaluate whether there are ascertained or potential dangers to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property that would warrant inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2013
37 COM 7B.91
City of Potosi (Bolivia) (C 420)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.96 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the information submitted by the State Party and regrets that insufficient details were provided to comprehensively assess the current factors affecting the property;

4.  Reiterates its requests the State Party to:

a)  Clarify whether Article 6 of Supreme Decree 27787 of October 2004 has been modified and if the moratorium on all exploration, extraction and any other interventions under and above ground between altitudes 4400m and 4700m is currently enforced,

b)  Provide further details on the scope and extent of operations foreseen for interventions at the summit of the Cerro Rico,

c)  Finalise the scientific studies for Cerro Rico and develop a comprehensive strategy for its stabilization and monitoring,

d)  Provide details on the current arrangements for the management system for the property, including information on provisions and timeframes for conservation and rehabilitation works, proposals for public use and plans for risk management;

5.  Requests the State Party to invite an ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission during 2013 to assess the current state of conservation of the property and to evaluate whether there are ascertained or potential dangers to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property would warrant inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

6.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , 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 38th session in 2014.

Draft Decision:  37 COM 7B.91

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.96, adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Takes note of the information submitted by the State Party and regrets that insufficient details were provided to comprehensively assess the current factors affecting the property;

4.  Reiterates its requests the State Party to:

a)  Clarify whether Article 6 of Supreme Decree 27787 of October 2004 has been modified and if the moratorium on all exploration, extraction and any other interventions under and above ground between altitudes 4400m and 4700m is currently enforced,

b)  Provide further details on the scope and extent of operations foreseen for interventions at the summit of the Cerro Rico,

c)  Finalise the scientific studies for Cerro Rico and develop a comprehensive strategy for its stabilization and monitoring,

d)  Provide details on the current arrangements for the management system for the property, including information on provisions and timeframes for conservation and rehabilitation works, proposals for public use and plans for risk management;

5.  Also requests the State Party to invite an ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission during 2013 to assess the current state of conservation of the property and to evaluate whether there are ascertained or potential dangers to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property would warrant inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

6.  Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, 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 38th session in 2014.

 

Report year: 2013
Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
Date of Inscription: 1987
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2014-present
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 37COM (2013)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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