The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice: Mining, minerals and repression in Ecuador

CODELCO- A VERY QUICK UPDATE: MINING, MINERALS AND REPRESSION IN ECUADOR

Posted on | maart 6, 2012 | No Comments

Codelco logo.svgReports from the communities have it that CODELCO is withdrawing their drilling equipment. For now. There was talk of communities taking action against the company’s presence, which might have inspired the company to stop the drilling. However, it is more likely that they completed their first phase of drilling and are waiting to start their second phase with more sophisticated and larger equipment, which implies 5-10 times more drilling.

MINING, MINERALS AND REPRESSION

As Canada’s famous Prospectors, Developers Association of Canada’s convention got underway today in Toronto, a different kind of mining event was unfolding in Ecuador’s capital. Eight anti-mining women activists were violently arrested when they tried to deliver a letter to the Chinese Ambassador in Ecuador in which they expressed their rejection of the signing of the contract between Ecuador and the Chinese-owned Ecuacorriente mining company, which will give the go-ahead for the open-pit copper Mirador Project.

The contract was signed today and, in theory, should pave the way for the first open-pit metal mining project in Ecuador, and large-scale mining in general. To date, Ecuador is the only Andean nation free of large-scale metal mines.

The mining site is situated in the Amazon’s biodiverse Cordillera del Condor, southeast of the country, and would impact the Shuar people, pristine rivers and streams, as well as primary cloud forests. The women, belonging to Acción Ecológica, were violently removed from the Chinese premises, even though the Chinese Embassy did not ask for the police action, according to reports. There was more violence outside the building when police confronted supporters of the protesters.(SEE THE ARTICLE BELOW FOR MORE DETAILS). Violence and mining; and not an ounce of copper has been mined yet by the transnationals. Kinross’s gold mine is next in line for the exploitation contract, if they can navigate through all the hurdles facing the mining companies in Ecuador.

The AFP article below reporting on the violent removal of the activists mentions a national march that is to from all corners of the country starting on the 8th of March. Rejection of large-scale mining is a central galvanizer of the marchers. On the 22nd, the different protesters will meet in Quito for the International Water Day, where they will be joined by their urban counterparts. For more details on the march see: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ecuador-archives-49/3498-1-conaie-and-social-movements-mobilize-in-ecuador

Ecuador to sign mining contract with Chinese firm

Ecuador was set to sign a contract Monday with a Chinese company for a massive copper mine in the Amazon, prompting protests by environmental activists.

Police forcefully removed a dozen female environmental activists who had occupied China’s embassy in Quito to reject the pact with Chinese-financed mining company EcuaCorriente (ECSA), saying it would damage the Amazon’s fragile ecosystem.

The officers boarded the protesters in a police bus surrounded by soldiers. Yvonne Yanez, leader of the group Ecologist Action, said the activists entered the embassy without incident, and that the women had been waiting inside to deliver a letter to the ambassador, who never received them. About 50 other activists were outside the diplomatic mission. The mining company’s work “will affect for all time the territory of indigenous people and nature,” the letter said.

“We reject the signing of the contract… without approval of an environmental impact study and without the knowledge of indigenous communities.” The agreement, which falls under a law passed three years ago, comes just before the main aboriginal group CONAIE planned to initiate a two-week march to Quito on Thursday to protest such mining activities and other policies backed by President Rafael Correa.

ECSA plans to invest $1.4 billion during the first five years of the 25-year contract for the Mirador mine in the Condor range in southeastern Ecuador, in an area that the protesters say is one of the country’s most biodiverse. The mine has an estimated reserves of 2.1 million tons (4.7 billion pounds) of copper.

Ecuador stands to receive $4.5 billion over the term of the agreement, while the company, which will begin production in late 2014, will invest $100 million from royalties to help develop neighboring communities. The state’s share of mining income is 52 percent, higher than in countries like Chile (36 percent), Peru (32.9 percent) and Mexico (30 percent), but less than the 85 percent that applies to oil production.

“The state owns the resources and the company invests at a cost to get the resources. The highest percentage of profit will always go to the state,” Vice Minister of Mines Federico Auquilla told El Comercio newspaper. He said Ecuador has a dozen projects in advanced stages of exploration — prior to signing a contract — for copper, gold and silver.

But most of the projects are located in regions of the Amazon home to indigenous communities staunchly opposed to large-scale mining. “We will not accept large-scale mining in our territory because it will destroy nature, pollute rivers and displace people in areas with significant agricultural potential,  arming and tourism,” CONAIE president Humberto Cholango.

Source: Aid Netherlands

Mining and Oil will Allow Ecuador to Change Development Model

Quito, Mar 6 (Prensa Latina) President Rafael Correa said that Ecuador has taken the path of large-scale mining development, which, combined with oil production, will allow the country to boost economic growth. He also said that the country could move from the extraction economy model to exporter of tertiary services associated to knowledge.

Correa made such statements on Monday at the end of the signing ceremony of the first contract in the country for large-scale copper exploitation with the Chinese company Ecuacorriente, behind which there are two Chinese mega-corporations. They want to show us that neglecting extraction economy does not mean breaking the economy. Getting rid of the extraction economy is to mobilize those resources to other areas of the economy, as the United States and Australia did, he said.

After three years of great social and legal preparations and 83 formal meetings, a brand new contract in Ecuador emerged, according to Correa “fiercely negotiated with the Motherland in mind”, which guarantees 25 years of benefits to Ecuador and the communities.

The Mirador deposit has reserves of nearly five billion pounds of copper, and it is located in the south of the Ecuadorian Amazonia, in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, 233 miles south of the capital.

Source: Prensa Latina

Ecuadorans protest China mine project

QUITO: Ecuador has signed an agreement with a Chinese firm to begin exploiting a massive copper mine in the Amazon, prompting protests by environmental activists.

“We cannot be beggars sitting on a sack of gold,” President Rafael Correa said at a signing ceremony Monday, adding that the deal would launch a “new era” of industrial mining in the small Andean country.

Police had earlier evicted a dozen female environmental activists who had occupied China’s embassy to reject the pact with Chinese-financed mining firm EcuaCorriente (ECSA), saying it would damage the Amazon’s fragile ecosystem.

The officers loaded the protesters onto a police bus surrounded by soldiers.

Yvonne Yanez, leader of the group Ecologist Action, said the activists entered the embassy without incident, and that the women had been waiting inside to deliver a letter to the ambassador, who never received them.

About 50 other activists were outside the diplomatic mission.

The mining “will affect for all time the territory of indigenous people and nature,” the letter said.

“We reject the signing of the contract… without approval of an environmental impact study and without the knowledge of indigenous communities.”

The agreement, which falls under a law passed three years ago, comes just before the main aboriginal group CONAIE planned to initiate a two-week march to Quito on Thursday to protest the mining and other Correa policies.

“We will not accept large-scale mining in our territory because it will destroy nature, pollute rivers and displace people in areas with significant agricultural potential, farming and tourism,” CONAIE president Humberto Cholango told AFP.

ECSA plans to invest US$1.4 billion during the first five years of the 25-year contract for the Mirador mine in the Condor range in southeastern Ecuador, in an area that the protesters say is one of the country’s most biodiverse.

The mine has an estimated reserves of 2.1 million tons of copper.

Ecuador stands to receive US$4.5 billion over the term of the agreement, while the company, which will begin production in late 2014, will invest US$100 million from royalties to help develop neighbouring communities.

The state’s share of mining income is 52 percent, higher than in countries like Chile (36 percent), Peru (32.9 percent) and Mexico (30 percent), but less than the 85 percent that applies to oil production.

“The state owns the resources and the company invests at a cost to get the resources. The highest percentage of profit will always go to the state,” Vice Minister of Mines Federico Auquilla told El Comercio newspaper.

He said Ecuador has a dozen projects in advanced stages of exploration — prior to signing an exploitation contract — for copper, gold and silver.

But most of the projects are located in regions of the Amazon home to indigenous communities staunchly opposed to large-scale mining.

Source:  Business News

Supporters, Opponents Of Ecuador Pres Correa Plan Marches

QUITO (Dow Jones)–Opponents and supporters of President Rafael Correa are preparing separate marches Thursday, in which, according to local analysts, could be a measure of the ability to call on these sectors in next year’s presidential election.

Ecuador’s Electoral Council has scheduled the country’s 2013 presidential and National Assembly elections vote for Feb. 17. The 49-year-old Correa is favored to win re-election, but hasn’t decided if he will participate.

Correa’s support has been bolstered by heavy social and infrastructure spending, helped by high oil prices.

A former ally of Correa, and now one of his main opponents, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, or Conaie, is organizing the “March for life and the dignity of the people.”

The march is scheduled to start in the Amazonian province of Zamora Chinchipe. Participants will march through eight provinces and plan to arrive in Quito on March 22, “the day of the water.”

Many leftist groups, as well as former members of the government’s ruling Alianza Pais party, among them the former president of the National Assembly, Alberto Acosta, have announced their support for the march.

Conaie Vice President Pepe Acacho says the march has the support of at least 20 different left-leaning organizations.

Acacho said indigenous people are calling for the government to respect democracy, which they believe is being violated by the “authoritarian attitudes of the President.”

Conaie will also be marching to reject large-scale mining and oil tenders as well as to seek a water law that “doesn’t privatize water use,” among others.

Correa said the marchers are looking to destabilize his government, and has called on his supporters to gather in the Plaza Grande, where the government palace is located. That gathering, also planned for Thursday, is to support International Women’s day and “to be vigil for democracy.”

“With great caution, but very strongly. In peace, with democracy, but defending our revolution, our constitutional government,” Correa said recently during his weekly media address.

Simon Pachano, a professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, or FLACSO, said the president’s position reflects his attitude towards opposition in a democracy.

“It seems to me that the government considers that any form of opposition is a form of conspiracy and that therefore they have to confront it immediately” said Pachano.

Jorge Leon, with the Investigative Center on Development and Social Movements, said the marches will also be a clear sign of the polarization that exists in the Ecuadorian society and the use of political confrontation as a way to win election results.

“President Correa is accelerating the political confrontation that has given him results in all the previous electoral processes, and gives him a lot of popularity,” said Leon.

According to the latest national surveys, carried out in December by Cedatos-Gallup International, in that month, Correa’s credibility rating was 51% and approval rating was 55%, a decrease from the 68% and 73%, respectively, in January of 2007 when he took office. Nevertheless, Correa has maintained strong ratings compared with other governments.

According to a recent survey from Perfiles de Opinion, 52% of people surveyed in Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador’s main cities, disagree with the march planned by the indigenous and leftist groups and 47% agree with the march. The survey also found that 54% disagree with the march from Correa supporters and 46% agree with it.

All agree, however, that 2012 will be a year of political conflicts and that the electoral campaign will be tough, regardless of who runs for the presidency.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 

Editorial: Selvavidasinfronteras.org

Selvavidasinfronteras.wordpress.com

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 8 March, 2012.

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