MAC: Mines and Communities


Published by MAC on 2007-07-23



23th July 2007

By Dr. Alfredo Alvear E.

The Commission for Civil-Society Control of Corruption has determined that the Ascendant Copper Company, ASCENDCOPPER S.A., has purchased, since 2005, 56 pieces of land located around their mining concessions. Eighteen of these 56 properties were allocated by the Agrarian Development Institute (INDA) and the beneficiaries then turned around and resold them, after one or two months, to the Company, for speculative purposes, at prices higher than those paid to the Government agency.

This seems to be a strategy of the mining company, as stated in their document entitled "Prospectus", published on the Website of the "System for Economic Document Analysis and Retrieval of the Empresa Ascendant Cooper ASCENDCOOPER S.A.", which states that:: "With the sale of their land rights to Ascendant, it is expected that most residents will have left the area or will decide voluntarily to leave the area".

The CCCC has determined that, in this case, they have committed infractions that will result in the reversion of this land to the Ecuadorian Government, since the land beneficiaries, a month or two after receiving their properties, sold their land to the mining company at prices 40 or 50 times higher than those paid to INDA, thereby demonstrating the speculative motive of these sales, and the failure to comply with the utilization plan approved by INDA. Further, the land award process was determined to have been unusually speedy. (The whole process took no longer than two months, between the date of the original application to the property award date.) Seven applicants also gained an advantage by submitting their applications to the Central District and not to the Imbabura Province regional office, as they should have done. Therefore, evidence of prevarication has been determined, in the action by Mr. Carlos Rolando Aguirre, Executive Director of INDA, and other staff involved in processing these land applications.

The CCCC will submit its investigation report to the Public Ministry in order to open the respective preparatory investigations against those involved in this case. Moreover, it will sent the case to Mr. Carlos Vallejo, Minister of Agriculture, in his capacity as President of the INDA Governing Council, so he canl ensure that proceedings begin for this land to revert to State ownership.

The Anti-Corruption Commission will also send a report to Mr. Lenin Moreno-Garcés, Vice President of the Nation, the authority responsible for environmental issues in the Central Government, in order to inform him of the complex problem prevailing in the Intag zone, in the canton of Cotacachi, regarding the industrial plans of the Ascendant Copper S.A. mining company.

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