Ecuador’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum officially terminated Copper Mesa Mining Corporation’s (formerly Ascendant Copper) Golden 1 mining concession in Intag, Ecuador on Nov. 12. The Golden 1 concession formed a key part of the company’s JUNIN mining project, and constituted the company’s most valuable asset. The government action means that the concession will revert back to the government
It is only a matter of time when the other two concessions making up the JUNIN project will be extinguished, in light that they also did not comply with the process of previous consultation with the community and failed to produce a valid environmental impact assessment- which were the basis used by the government for the extinction.
The decision was a direct result of the April 15th Mining Mandate issued by the National Assembly, which extinguished most of the country’s mining concessions. The Mandate excludes compensation of any kind for the mining companies.
According to government spokespersons, over 4,000 mining concessions were affected by the Mandate. Projects in the exploitation phase were generally left alone, but nearly all of the ones in exploration phase were affected.
According to the new mining legislation being debated in the provisional National Assembly (the “mini-congress” as it is known here), no mining concessions can be awarded until the government determines the areas designated for mining activities in its National Development Plan, something that could last months or even years.
Copper Mesa and its predecessors (Ascendant Copper Corporation and Ascendant Exploration), have been in the Intag area since 2004, and have been accused of serious human rights abuses, including numerous and documented use of paramilitaries against the local population who are opposed to mining. Its unwelcome presence in the area provoked numerous violent confrontations, which led the government to issue several stop-work orders in late 2006 and early 2007.
The Second Transnational Mining Corporation Defeated in Intag
The communities of Intag, with the full support of all its local governments and organizations, have been resisting mining development since the 1990’s, when the Mitsubishi subsidiary, Bishimetals, discovered copper and molybdenum amidst the Toisan Range’s primary forests and pristine rivers and streams. In 1997 due to overwhelming local opposition, Bishimetals was forced to abandon the project.