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“My little boy is still sick. I am not going to stay silent even if I must fight with the government and Antamina, which for me are one and the same,” Wilfredo Moran, a 34-year-old villager, told the AP by phone on Friday.

He said his 4-year-old is nauseous nearly every day, vomits after eating and has lost weight.

Yasira Sotela, a 9-year-old who was hospitalized immediately after the spill for profuse nose bleeding “continues to bleed from the nose at least twice a week,” her mother, Ines Valverde, told the AP on Friday.

When she goes to the village’s medical clinic, “they only give us paracetamol (an over-the-counter analgesic) and say, `Nothing’s wrong. Go home. Don’t worry,’” she said.

Senior Peruvian environmental officials answered evasively when asked on Monday about the slurry test results and the villagers’ claims of inadequate medical care.

“The state is sometimes accused of being slow,” Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal said during a meeting with international press when the AP inquired about the two issues. “We are trying to change that.”

He said Antamina was in discussions with local authorities and villagers about compensating those affected and establishing a way to cope with health concerns.

Pulgar-Vidal said the government is trying to stiffen penalties for polluters by doubling the top fine, which is currently $13.3 million. Immediately after the spill, he called for the top fine for Antamina.

Antamina is the world’s third-largest zinc mine and eighth-biggest producer of copper. It is owned by a consortium including Australia-based BHP Billiton Ltd., Xstrata of Switzerland, Teck-Cominco Ltd. of Canada and Mitsubishi Corp. of Japan.

Critics say Peru’s Environment Ministry, established in 2008, is statutorily weak, and President Ollanta Humala’s government has proposed legislation that would put it in charge of environmental impact studies for mines, a responsibility currently of the Mining and Energy Ministry.

The Andean nation, which gets more than 60 percent of its export earnings from mining, currently faces more than 100 different social conflicts, most related to environmental contamination or fears of it.


Associated Press writers Carla Salazar and Frank Bajak contributed to this report.