Codelco- a very quick update: Mining, Minerals and Repression in Ecuador

Posted on | maart 6, 2012 | No Comments

Codelco logo.svgReports from the communities have it that CODELCO is withdrawing their drilling equipment. For now. There was talk of communities taking action against the company’s presence, which might have inspired the company to stop the drilling. However, it is more likely that they completed their first phase of drilling and are waiting to start their second phase with more sophisticated and larger equipment, which implies 5-10 times more drilling.


As Canada’s famous Prospectors, Developers Association of Canada’s convention got underway today in Toronto, a different kind of mining event was unfolding in Ecuador’s capital. Eight anti-mining women activists were violently arrested when they tried to deliver a letter to the Chinese Ambassador in Ecuador in which they expressed their rejection of the signing of the contract between Ecuador and the Chinese-owned Ecuacorriente mining company, which will give the go-ahead for the open-pit copper Mirador Project.

The contract was signed today and, in theory, should pave the way for the first open-pit metal mining project in Ecuador, and large-scale mining in general. To date, Ecuador is the only Andean nation free of large-scale metal mines.

The mining site is situated in the Amazon’s biodiverse Cordillera del Condor, southeast of the country, and would impact the Shuar people, pristine rivers and streams, as well as primary cloud forests. The women, belonging to Acción Ecológica, were violently removed from the Chinese premises, even though the Chinese Embassy did not ask for the police action, according to reports. There was more violence outside the building when police confronted supporters of the protesters.(SEE THE ARTICLE BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS). Violence and mining; and not an ounce of copper has been mined yet by the transnationals. Kinross’s gold mine is next in line for the exploitation contract, if they can navigate through all the hurdles facing the mining companies in Ecuador.

The AFP article below reporting on the violent removal of the activists mentions a national march that is to from all corners of the country starting on the 8th of March. Rejection of large-scale mining is a central galvanizer of the marchers. On the 22nd, the different protesters will meet in Quito for the International Water Day, where they will be joined by their urban counterparts. For more details on the march see:

Ecuador to sign mining contract with Chinese firm

Ecuador was set to sign a contract Monday with a Chinese company for a massive copper mine in the Amazon, prompting protests by environmental activists.

Police forcefully removed a dozen female environmental activists who had occupied China’s embassy in Quito to reject the pact with Chinese-financed mining company EcuaCorriente (ECSA), saying it would damage the Amazon’s fragile ecosystem.

The officers boarded the protesters in a police bus surrounded by soldiers. Yvonne Yanez, leader of the group Ecologist Action, said the activists entered the embassy without incident, and that the women had been waiting inside to deliver a letter to the ambassador, who never received them. About 50 other activists were outside the diplomatic mission. The mining company’s work “will affect for all time the territory of indigenous people and nature,” the letter said.

“We reject the signing of the contract… without approval of an environmental impact study and without the knowledge of indigenous communities.” The agreement, which falls under a law passed three years ago, comes just before the main aboriginal group CONAIE planned to initiate a two-week march to Quito on Thursday to protest such mining activities and other policies backed by President Rafael Correa.

ECSA plans to invest $1.4 billion during the first five years of the 25-year contract for the Mirador mine in the Condor range in southeastern Ecuador, in an area that the protesters say is one of the country’s most biodiverse. The mine has an estimated reserves of 2.1 million tons (4.7 billion pounds) of copper.

Ecuador stands to receive $4.5 billion over the term of the agreement, while the company, which will begin production in late 2014, will invest $100 million from royalties to help develop neighboring communities. The state’s share of mining income is 52 percent, higher than in countries like Chile (36 percent), Peru (32.9 percent) and Mexico (30 percent), but less than the 85 percent that applies to oil production.

“The state owns the resources and the company invests at a cost to get the resources. The highest percentage of profit will always go to the state,” Vice Minister of Mines Federico Auquilla told El Comercio newspaper. He said Ecuador has a dozen projects in advanced stages of exploration — prior to signing a contract — for copper, gold and silver.

But most of the projects are located in regions of the Amazon home to indigenous communities staunchly opposed to large-scale mining. “We will not accept large-scale mining in our territory because it will destroy nature, pollute rivers and displace people in areas with significant agricultural potential,  arming and tourism,” CONAIE president Humberto Cholango.


AUTHOR: Carlos Zorrilla
E-MAIL: toisan06 [at]


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