The activity generates great expectations for the country’s economy. $ 4.5 billion of foreign investment is expected over the next few years. In a dialogue with the public media, Rebeca Illescas, Minister of Mining in charge, assured that the Government guarantees responsible mining activity and mentioned some actions that will allow the contribution of this sector to gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 1.3% current to 4% in the coming years.
How are you implementing the results obtained in question 5 of the popular consultation?
Mining activity in protected and intangible areas was already prohibited since the 2008 Constitution; now it expands to urban centers. We will review the concessions that may be affecting these territories and we will make an expiration process to eliminate these concessions according to the space that is affected.
What will be the contribution of mining within the economic program that will be presented in March? Are reforms or new incentives contemplated?
Mining will undoubtedly be an important contribution for this economic moment. This sector will contribute with more than $ 4,500 million in investments for the next four years, with more than $ 1,300 million in revenues for the State and with more than 25,000 new jobs.
For the next few years we will have better conditions for investors, such as legal security and tax incentives that will be put to the consideration of the President of the Republic.
We are going to go from a share of 1.3% in GDP to 4%. How do you ensure that responsible mining is carried out?
The Government ensures responsible mining. In Ecuador there is no large-scale industrial metal mining activity that is currently in production. What we have is the activity of small mining and artisanal. What we have are companies in exploration phase and that implies a minimum environmental impact. The 270 concessions delivered in the last two years are for exploration only. To get an idea, internationally for every 100 exploration projects, one may end up in a mine. We will not allow any mining activity that does not have environmental permits.
What is the profile of the mining companies that operate in the country today?
We assure that we will work with the best companies. In the last year 27 new international companies have been domiciled. Under the auction auction model, high-level firms such as BHP Billington, Newcrest, etc. have entered. This does not mean that they cannot make alliances with local companies because for us that productive chain is important.
How are you working for the small artisanal miners who depend on this activity?
The President of the Republic has indicated that we are going to do mining and well done. This does not mean working only for industrial mining, which is the one that has technical standards that help minimize environmental and social impacts. For us, the artisanal sector and small mining, which is the historical sector of mining in Ecuador, is very important. We are working on the regularization and formalization of this group; We will improve your technology and control the activity so that it is carried out correctly.
How have the royalties been invested so far?
Mining is a productive activity that generates and will generate many revenues to the State. Royalties are part of the State’s income. Over the next few years, more than $ 1,300 million will be paid in taxes alone and part of this is royalties. Of those that we have already received, they have already materialized in projects in the territory through the public company Ecuador Estratégico. More than 100 works have been made with more than $ 150 million in the mining provinces. For example, in Ponce Enríquez we are improving basic services.
Does the current review of concessions affect the relationship between the country and the mining companies?
The Comptroller again evaluates some projects that have already been reviewed by the Comptroller’s Office and we have the reports. On this occasion we have given you all the information so that all the necessary audits are done. In Loma Larga (Quimsacocha), the Comptroller met with the company and with the community and we understand that he was very calm with what he could review. Now we will start a review of the documents.
What is the Plan Zaruma -Portovelo 2022 about?
Zaruma is a particular case for Ecuador. Zaruma and Portovelo is a historical mining district for 500 years. We went to review the activity and we are working with an Interinstitutional Committee verifying that a controlled activity is done and that economic alternatives are given to the population.
What happened to the mining concession delivered in San Miguel de los Bancos and that generated controversy surrounding the departure of its predecessor?
The concession of the Banks was not delivered subsequently to the decision of the President and the title was materialized in the later date and that caused confusion in the citizenship. The exploration process was delivered to a Canadian-Australian company. We assure that we are reviewing all the concessions. If there is any irregularity, we will take care of it.
How is the panorama in the locality of Buenos Aires (Imbabura)?
There, information was leaked from a mineralized zone and many illegal miners have arrived, even from places like Zaruma. We are doing the necessary operations to combat this illegal activity in that area. (I)