MAC: Mines and Communities

Ecuador: To consult (or not consult) the people

Published by MAC on 2011-10-05
Source: Statement, Dow Jones (2011-10-21)

Quimsacocha gold project rejected in consulta to water users

Last week, the indigenous and mestizo peoples of the rural parishes of Victoria del Portete and Tarqui in Ecuador, called for a vote (consulta) on implementation of the Quimsacocha project.

The proposed gold mine is located 30km south-west of the city of Cuenca, in south-central Ecuador, at an altitude of 3,600m.

The area is a páramo - a high altitude wetland and source of water in commonly-held lands.

In 1991, the property was purchased by COGEMA, joined by Newmont Mining and TVX Gold in 1994. Canada's IAMGOLD took over some years later.

Then, on Monday this week, the result of the consulta was announced:

SI: 47 votes= 4.53%

NO: 958 votes= 92,38%

Blank: 18 votes= 1.73%

Null: 14 votes= 1.35%

See previous on MAC: Protests Against IamGold in Ecuador

See Consulta short video (Spanish): http://www.phmovement.org/es/node/6195

However, while the Quimsacocha consulta was being prepared, the Ecuadorian government approved the environmental study [EIA] for another large scale mining project.

And this, without recognising any community voting process.

Much to the dismay of Ecuadorian social movements, the EIA for the Mirador project, owned by a Chinese conglomerate and run locally by Ecuacorriente, is the first to be approved in the much-disputed Cordillera del Condor mountain range on the Ecuador-Peru border.

Thus, the company is now closer to securing a license to operate, while still far from enjoying the peoples' consent.

A network of civil society groups, the Asamblea de los Pueblos - which includes indigenous organisations, environmentalists and other local organisations - has denounced this move, and is now calling for a national march rejecting mining.

The EIA was also approved in spite of  posing serious questions: US consultants, E-tech,  found it contained many flaws. See: http://www.etechinternational.org/2011ecuador/InformeDeViaje_E-Tech_Ecuador_081911.pdf

 ESPAÑOL

Invitation to Consultation

September 2011

The Community Electoral Tribunal of the Community Water Systems of the province of Azuay, in the rural parishes of Tarqui and Victoria del Portete, making use of its attributes and in accordance with the constitution of the republic of Ecuador, ILO Convention 169 and other international instruments, as well as the legal statute and guidelines of the Community Water Systems approved by Resolution No 118 by the National Commission of Hydrological Resources.

Invite

All domestic users of water from the communities that make up the Community Water Systems of the rural parishes of Tarqui and Victoria del Portete, to participate in a local vote over the following question:

Are you in agreement with mining activity in the water source known as Kimsacocha?

Yes ___ No ____

The consultation will take place on Sunday October 2, 2011 from 7am to 2pm in the central plaza of the rural parish of Victoria del Portete.

Attentively,

Lawyer Martha Arévalo Chuchuca
President of the Tribunal

Dr. Tania Vele Zhagui
Secretary of the Tribunal


ILO support for local vote of the Kichwa indigenous and mestizo peoples of Victoria del Portete and Tarqui scheduled for Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mr. Juan Somavia
ILO Director General
4, route de Morillons
CH-1211 Geneva 22
SWITZERLAND

23 August 2011

Cuenca - The indigenous and mestizo peoples of the rural parishes of Victoria del Portete and Tarqui (Kichwa) have called a vote regarding implementation of the Quimsacocha (Kimsakocha) (1) gold and silver mining project being carried out by the multinational mining company Iamgold in an area of páramo, a high altitude wetland and source of water in commonly held lands.

This vote will take place on Sunday October 2nd 2011 in the rural parish centre of Victoria del Portete, county of Cuenca, Ecuador. During the plebiscite, the communities will decide if they are in agreement or not with this mining development in Kimsakocha, including indigenous peoples, tarkis, irkis, Kachiwaiku, Escaleras and others who are part of the parish of Tarqui and Victoria del Portete and who rely on this water for domestic, irrigation, agriculture and livestock production, in other words for their food sovereignty.

The area of exploration that this company would like to bring into production is within a protected natural and forest area of over 34,000 hectares. Headwaters of rivers such as the Irquis-Tarqui, Bermejos-Yanuncay, Chorro, Alumbre, Cristal-Ridcay, are found here, and pass through Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, along with an abundance of biodiversity, including endemic species of fauna and flora.

The mining company has been carrying out, without consultation and illegitimately, the advanced exploration phase and is about to enter into production in this high sanctuary, in which lagoons sacred for the spiritual traditions of the ancestral peoples and local communities, could be faced with serious impacts and consequences such as have been described in a documentary produced by Al Jazeera. (2)

Local residents have been victims of human rights violations and abuses of humanitarian law, among these, defamation, buying up support in order to provoke confrontations between residents and to generate divisions, false allegations and criminalization of protest.

Three local leaders from Tarqui and Victoria del Portete, Carlos Pérez, Frederico Guzmán and Efraín Arpí, were sentenced to 8 days in jail in August 2011 on reduced charges of blocking roads during a protest in May 2010 against a proposed new water law. They were charged with sabotage of public services, which carries a possible sentence of 8 to 12 years in jail.

By way of this letter, we appeal to you as the Director General of the ILO so that in fulfillment of your mission to ensure adequate implementation of Convention 169, ratified by the republic of Ecuador, you would send a representative in support of the affected communities that have decided to carry out this plebiscite.

We cordially request your decision, recognizing that peoples to the south of us in northern Peru have carried out similar popular votes, such as in Tambogrande in 2002 and in Ayabaca, Pacaipampa, and El Carmen de la Frontera in 2007, democratic events which we recognize can play an important and decisive role toward resolving disputes such as those faced by communities in conflict with transnational mining corporations.

We thank you for your attention and send our best regards.

Carlos Pérez Guartambel
President of the Federation of Indigenous and Campesino Organizations of the province of Azuay (FOA), and Coordinator of the Union of Community Water Systems of the province of Azuay (UNAGUA)

cc:
Regional Director of the ILO for Latin America and the Caribbean
Subregional Director of the ILO for Andean countries

1 Kimsacocha means three lagoons.
2 Al Jazeera, People and Power, "Ecuador: Water or Gold," first broadcast Aug 2010; http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/peopleandpower/2010/08/201082585310769297.html


EcuaCorriente Close To Getting License For Mirador Project

By Mercedes Alvaro

Dow Jones Newswires

21 September 2011

QUITO - EcuaCorriente, the local unit of Canada's Corriente Resources Inc., is close to receiving a license for its Mirador project in Ecuador, after obtaining approval for its environmental-impact studies, a high-level government official said Wednesday.

Juan Carlos Soria, deputy secretary for environmental quality, said in an interview that the company has paid $200,000 of the $600,000 required to get the environmental license.

EcuaCorriente is controlled by China Railway Construction Corp. and Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Co.

The Mirador project, in southern Ecuador, has estimated reserves of 10 billion pounds of copper.

Ecuador currently has a minimal mining output, and large projects are generally centered on nonmetallic products such as cement.

Ecuador President Rafael Correa's administration plans to sign exploitation and investment contracts with at least three foreign mining companies this year.

The Correa administration is negotiating with, among others, EcuaCorriente; the local unit of International Minerals Corp. for its Rio Blanco project; and Kinross Gold Corp. for its Fruta del Norte project.

Wilson Pastor, minister of nonrenewable natural resources, said Wednesday that an economic agreement with Ecuacorriente will be ready this month.

"We have yet to get agreements for two or three of the 10 economic points," although there are legal and other issues to be resolved to get an agreement in October, Pastor said.

According to Pastor, talks with Kinross also are progressing and it is expected that next week, International Minerals will submit its final proposal as part of the negotiation process to sign exploitation and investment contracts.

Guayaquil's Expreso newspaper said Wednesday that International Minerals has partnered with China's CAMC Engineering for the financing and construction of the Rio Blanco project.

The Rio Blanco project in the southwest has estimated reserves of 605,000 ounces of gold and 4.3 million ounces of silver.

Officials from CAMC Engineering as well as IMC weren't available for comment.

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