Ecuador’s rising opposition to mining may thwart exploration boom – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – January 6, 2019)

Ecuador, one of the hottest destinations for copper prospectors, aims to more than double the value of mining to its economy by 2021, but projects risks delays and potential halts due to growing local opposition to the extraction of the country’s resources.

According to the latest report by Fitch Solutions Macro Research, the ongoing expansion of mining exploration in the South American country is raising the risk of tensions between companies and the local population.

In two landmark cases last year, Ecuadorian courts sided with rural and indigenous communities who argued the national government had failed to inform them it was setting aside parts of their territories for mineral exploitation. That, Fitch Solutions notes, is a right protected by the 2008 Constitution.

A judge in the Sucumbios province, near Colombia, banned mining activity in 52 concessions, and banned another in the southern province Azuay; a gold- silver project called Rio Blanco, owned by China’s Junefield Resources.

The Rio Blanco case sparked encouragement for a new lawsuit from the Cotacachi government against the Ecuadorian government for granting concessions in Los Cedros, part of the Intag Valley, without prior consultation. In November 2018, the local government requested an injunction on mining activities.

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