A judge in Ecuador suspended a mining project in the south of the country, after accepting some protection resources from communities settled in those areas, Efe president of the Chamber of Mining, Santiago Yépez, informed Efe today.
This is the Río Blanco project, located in the Andean province of Azuay, in which there have been several clashes between its residents and the Chinese operator in charge of the mining activity.
Yépez recalled that this judicial action has been appealed by the Government, considering that it is a strategic project of high impact for the national economy and for the generation of employment.
The mining activity of the Río Blanco project was suspended following a ruling by Paúl Serrano, a civil judge in Cuenca, at the request of the communities.
The president of the Chamber also referred to the Mirador project, located in the Amazonian province of Zamora Chinchipe, subject to a protection action by the indigenous population settled in the area.
The Amazon Community of Social Action Cordillera del Cóndor Mirador (Cascomi) claims to be aboriginal in the area and demands that, for that reason, there should have been prior consultation on mining activities.
Yépez indicated that the judge in charge of the case requested an expert opinion to determine if these communities are ancestral, as established by the regulations on prior consultation.
In addition, he affirmed that the Mining Chamber will present legal actions to defend extractive projects, although he recalled that “it is the State that should lead the process.”
The Rio Blanco and Mirador projects are two of the five that have been subject to legal actions that, according to the Chamber of Mining, are considered of paramount importance to the national economy and its surrounding communities.
On his side, the Minister of Hydrocarbons, Carlos Perez, referred today to the mining projects questioned and said that both are “good” and that the awarded companies handle it in a “responsible” manner.
In addition, he said he will soon talk with the country’s president, Lenin Moreno, to determine which are the areas in which mining can be carried out, without affecting the care of the environment and resources such as water, nature and communities.
The Ministry indicated that the five projects, focused on exploration and exploitation, are located in the provinces of Azuay, Zamora Chinchipe and its neighbor of Morona Santiago, which have a validity of up to 27 years.
The Ministry of Mining has recently reported that this sector could contribute to the country some 10 billion dollars over the next three years.
However, environmental groups have expressed their rejection of mining exploitation and extraction in the country and criticize that despite the Government’s promises to suspend concessions, these are still given without respecting areas of special ecological interest. (I)