Residents of the Southern Ecuador’s city of Cuenca have voted in favour of banning future large-scale mining activities in five nearby watershed zones – an area that stretches over 3,100 square km (1,197 square miles) and is home to more than 580,000 people.
The poll results represents a win for Cuenca, in the province of Azuay, which hosts several mining assets, including Chinese-owned Junefield’s Rio Blanco gold project, SolGold’s (LON, TSX:SOLG) Sharug and Canada’s INV Metals’ (TSX-V: INV) Loma Larga gold-silver-copper project.
The city, the country’s third largest, pushed last year for the referendum on whether or not communities could decide the fate of mining projects in the area.
Ecuador’s highest court handed the community a victory, allowing them to set a date to vote. The ruling made clear locals could only have their saying on mining rights not yet granted, not on licensed projects.
More than 80% of the electorate voted this week in favour of the ban, which proponents argue reinforces “the rights of Nature”, guaranteed by the country’s 2008 Constitution.
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