Ecuador’s Tense Vote Also Threatens to End Mining, Oil Projects – by Stephan Kueffner and James Attwood (Bloomberg News – August 15, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — While investors are focused on Ecuador’s tumultuous presidential election, two other measures on the ballot in the Aug. 20 vote will also shape the country’s financial future.

Ecuadorians are expected to vote in favor of referendums to order the closing of a major oil field and restrict gold and copper mining, potentially leaving the government with a large hole in its budget. The initiatives are taking place alongside a presidential race that was thrown into chaos last week when one of the leading candidates was assassinated while campaigning.

One referendum will ask all voters whether to allow oil production in the northeast corner of Yasuní National Park in the Amazon region to continue. State-controlled Petroecuador produces about 55,000 barrels per day at the field, equivalent to about 15% of its total crude output.

The other referendum will ask voters in the Quito metropolitan area whether authorities should stop granting permits in a 480-square-mile expanse known as the Andean Choco northwest of the capital. The area is thought to contain large gold and copper deposits, but is also home to wildlife such as toucans and spectacled bears.

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