MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Canadian Iamgold Exploring A Protected Forest: Local Residents Demand The Revocation

Published by MAC on 2006-03-31
Source: El Mercurio

Canadian IamGold Exploring a Protected Forest: Local Residents Demand the Revocation of their Concession

31st March 2006

www.elmercurio.com.ec

CUENCA - Canadian multinational company IamGold (www.iamgold.com) has been carrying out mining exploration efforts in the sector of Quimsacocha, located in the parish of Victoria del Portete in Ecuador. Local and nearby residents of Tarqui, San Fernando, Cumbe, Girón and Cuenca have become alarmed because to them this mining activity will carry a heavy environmental impact, especially upon regional water resources.

Gustavo Quezada, president of the Committee for Environmental Defense, says that the headwaters of the rivers Tarqui, Yanuncay and Girón are located in the high reaches of this zone, supplying water to a large number of inhabitants of this basin as well as adjoining settlements. The waters of these rivers serve as a source of drinking water, irrigation and other activities for these agricultural and livestock communities.

Quezada emphasized that the mining concession awarded is for exploration within the protected forests of Yanuncay Irquis. The multinational has an environmental permit from the Ministry of the Environment, which permits advanced exploration operations. Quezada, on behalf of the affected communities, has urged the revocation of the concession, which covers 9,250 hectacres, as well as urging the inclusion of the community in decision making processes and the creation of a Oversight Group for the Tarqui river basin.

Transparency and Information

Gustavo Quezada made a call for transparency and openness with respect to the plans and work operations which the multinational company is carrying out, especially with respect to the mitigation plans and environmental management plans authorized. He spoke painfully of the deep mistrust that the community has towards the institutions responsible for preservation of the environment. In this context he refers to the Commision of Environmental Management (CGA) whom he says has neither the capacity nor interest to carry out its function.

Oswaldo Guillén Martínez, a coordinator of the Committee of Environmental Defense highlighted the current conditions of the protected forests, and the consequences affected by deep drilling operations by the mining company. He said that the experiences of mining explotation in the country have always left negative consequences.

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