Ecuadorian Organizations Decry Promotion of Ecuador as ‘Mining Country’ during Mining Convention in Toronto

March 8, 2017 | By admin | Filed in: Corriente ResourcesINV MetalsEcuadorHuman RightsIndigenous RightsMilitarisation/Criminalisation.

On Monday, together with the Mining Injustice Solidarity
Network,
we helped deliver
the below statement during
‘Ecuador Day’
at the 2017 Prospectors and Developers
Association of Canada’s annual convention at the Metro Toronto
Convention Centre. Written and signed by over twenty Ecuadorian
organizations, it questions the legitimacy with which Ecuador
is being promoted as ‘open for mining business’ and the
conflict that this has created – and is anticipated to continue
fomenting – in mining-affected communities around the country

where companies such as Toronto-based INV Metals are
operating
.

The declaration points out outstanding legal and constitutional
problems with plans to advance existing mining projects owned
by Canadian, Chinese, and Chilean companies.
The first irregularity
mentioned is the 2008 Mining
Mandate, which the Canadian Embassy together with numerous
Canadian mining companies
lobbied hard
not to have applied, and to ensure that they –
and not the country’s mining-affected communities and
representative organizations – would have a privileged
seat at the table to develop the 2009 mining law. This did not
meet the standard set by the Mining Mandate, nor have
successive reforms.

It also highlights how public debate and efforts to bring
community complaints through various means have been suppressed
through processes of criminalization and the use of armed
forces to advance mining projects, which have ramped up since
the 2009 mining law was passed. Recently this culminated with
the two-month imposition of martial law on the entire province
of Morona Santiago, where the Chinese consortium CRCC Tongguan
hopes to open a large gold and copper mine on Shuar Indigenous
ancestral territory, and about which you can find more
information here
and
here
.


Considering the Prospectors and Developers Association of
Canada
(PDAC) mining convention to be held in Toronto,
Canada from March 5-8, 2017, the undersigned organizations and
local governments state
:

A mere three months from the end of its mandate, the Ecuadorian
government has illegitimately ramped up an extractivist mining
policy in the country. It has reopened the mining registry
enabling new mining concessions to be granted nationwide, it
has made administrative changes to enable large-scale
industrial mining and for projects to advance from the
exploration to the extraction stage, among other irresponsible
and illegal acts as laid out in the Ecuadorian Comptroller
General’s 2013 and 2016 reports.

Minister Javier Cordova’s presence at the PDAC 2017 mining
convention in Toronto, Canada, only accentuates community
resistance to mining projects as a result of the human rights
violations and environmental destruction that this activity
entails.

Shuar Indigenous territory in the southeastern Amazonian
province of Morona Santiago is still
in upheaval
as a result of the recent forced displacement
of communities that have been transformed into mining camps for
the Panantza San Carlos and Mirador mining projects (currently
owned by the Chinese consortium CRCC Tongguan and previously
owned by Canadian junior mining company Corriente Resources).

For two months, the government declared a “state of emergency”
in the area (effectively imposing martial law), restricting the
rights to “freedom of expression and opinion, association and
assembly, free transit and inviolability of the home …”. The
President of the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centres
(FISCH from its initials in Spanish) was imprisoned and faces
allegations of murder and of attacking or resisting some 84
people.

In the context of this still active turmoil in Ecuador, along
with the opposition to mining expressed by mining-affected
communities from around the country on February 6, 2017 at the
Chilean, Canadian, and Chinese embassies in Quito (countries of
origin for many companies operating in Ecuador), it is
unacceptable that the government is promoting mining in Ecuador
at an international mining convention.

With mineral prices down, promoting mining in Ecuador
translates into weakened social, environmental, and economic
legal protections in the country. The 2009 Mining Law and
subsequent reforms violate constitutional rights, ignore the
role of decentralized autonomous governments, and subsidize
mining activities through tax exemptions and other measures,
which all economic activities in the country should comply
with.

Many community leaders have been victims of diverse forms of
violence, while the material and intellectual authors of such
acts enjoy impunity. Communities who protest mining activities
that have violated their rights and destroyed the
environment have been criminalized.

By acquiring mining projects in Ecuador, mining companies
should be warned that they are also buying into these social
and environmental conflicts, along with the following legal
irregularities:

  • Mining concessions that should have been extinguished
    according to the 2008 Mining Mandate (which ordered most mining
    concessions in the country to be revoked without economic
    compenstion for lack of prior consultation, overlap with water
    supplies and protected areas, for having being obtained through
    influence trafficking, among other criteria).
  • Violation of the right to free, prior and informed
    consultation.
  • Violation of norms that establish the supremacy of the
    Constitution and international human rights treaties over any
    other legal norm or act of state authority (Articles 424, 425
    and 426).
  • Lack of respect for constitutional provisions that provide
    the grounds for a country free of mining, such as the
    following:

    • The rights of nature (Article 72)
    • The concept of ‘Living Well’ or ‘Buen Vivir’ as the
      means to achieve development (Article 275)
    • Food sovereignty (Article 281)
    • The human right to water (Article 12)
    • Priority use of water to ensure food sovereignty
      (Article 318)
    • Prohibition of extractive activities in protected areas
      (Article 407)
  • The principle pro homine: “In case of any doubt,
    constitutional norms will be interpreted to favour the full
    enjoyment of human rights.” (Article 427)
  • The principle in dubio pro natura: “In case of any
    doubt as to the scope of environmental protections, they will
    be applied in the way most favourable to protect nature.”
    (Article 395 (4))

In addition, communities and local governments have passed the
following initiatives and legal instruments to safeguard their
territories from mining:

  • Municipality of Cotacachi: Declared an Ecological County by
    municial bylaw;
  • Community of Intag: During the Summit of the Assembly for
    County Unity declared their opposition to mining in the country
    of Cotacachi, especially to the Llurimagua project;
  • Northwest of Quito: A union of six rural parishes in the
    Chocó Andean highlands have requested that mining concessions
    in the area be revoked;
  • Municipality of Cuenca (the third largest in the country):
    Passed a resolution declaring the county of Cuenca free of
    metal mining

Mining concessions in Ecuador overlap with protected areas,
water sources, protected forests, fragile high altitude
wetlands known as páramo, Indigenous territories,
Afro-Ecuadorian communities, populated areas and farming areas.

Those attending the mining fair should be aware of the
increasing conflict that mining is creating in diverse parts of
the country, which will only continue to grow with greater
promotion of mining activities in the country.

Signed:

  • Acción Ecológica
  • Mayor of the Municipality of Cotacachi/Alcalde del
    Municipio de Cotacachi
  • Amazon Watch
  • Bomboiza Shuar Association/Asociación Shuar de Bomboiza
  • Churuwia Shuar Centre/Centro Shuar Churuwia
  • San Carlos de Numpaim Shuar Centre/Centro Shuar San Carlos
    de Numpaim
  • Ecuadorian Committee for the Defence of Nature and the
    Environment/Comité Ecuatoriano Para la Dedefensa de la
    Naturaleza y el Medio Ambiente
  • Amazonian Indigenous Community for Social Action in the
    Condór-Mirador Mountain Range/Comunidad Indígena Amazónica de
    Accion Social Cordillera del Cóndor Mirador
  • Interprovincial Confederation of Kichwa Indigenous peoples
    of Saraguro/Confederación Interprovincial de Kichwas de
    Saraguro
  • Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations/Coordinadora
    Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas (CAOI)
  • Intag Ecological Defence and Conservation/Defensa y
    Conservación Ecológica de Intag (DECOIN)
  • ECUARUNARI
  • Descentralized Autonomous Government of Tundayme/Gobierno
    Autónomo Descentralizado Rural de Tundayme
  • Union of Rural Parishes in the Chocó Andean
    Highlans/Mancomunidad del Chocó Andio made up of the parishes
    of: Calacalí, Nanegal, Nanegalito, Nono, Gualea, Pacto
  • Peoples Health Movement/Movimiento por la Salud de los
    Pueblos
  • Municipality of Cotacachi/Municipio de Cotacachi
  • Achuar Indigenous Nationality of Ecuador/Nacionalidad
    Achuar del Ecuador
  • Provinicial Prefect of Zamora Chinchipe/Prefecto de Zamora
    Chinchipe
  • The Agroecology Network of the province of Loja/Red
    Agroecológica de Loja
  • Yasunidos de Guapondelig
  • Yasunidos Quito

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