22 June 2022, 12.15pm EDT
See the original statement by Acción Ecológica in Spanish here.
Every day in Ecuador, our human and collective rights and the rights of nature are violated. Mining companies continue to destroy our environment, pollute our rivers, and strip communities of their livelihoods and ancestral territories. Every day, men and women organize to defend life for this very reason.
Mining activities are threatening to make barren the many agriculturally and ecologically-diverse territories throughout our country. For this reason, communities are demanding the government fulfill its obligations and enact policies that uphold the rights related to the protection of life. It is unacceptable that national and transnational mining corporations are replacing the state by providing “aid,” “scholarships,” “foodstuffs,” and “remedies” in exchange for the plunder of resources and exploitation of labour. The State is playing a role by colluding with, being complicit in, and negligent towards the destruction of the systems that generate livelihoods alternative to “mineral development.” [These alternatives] are autonomous and capable of existing without causing harm.
By participating in the national strike, the communities who are resisting mining are expressing their rejection and indignation against all attempts to silence their reality. They demand that their rights be respected. They denounce that around 15% of national lands are subject to mining concessions, and that more than 3 million hectares will be explored for metal mining – of which approximately 400,000 hectares are in Indigenous territories. They also highlight that large-scale mining only represents 1.65% of the gross domestic product and that it employs only 0.12% of the labour force, while destroying tens of thousands of jobs linked to agriculture or tourism; they remind us that mining companies barely pay taxes, yet cause serious harm in perpetuity in the territories [in which they operate].
In the most outrageous way, the so-called “gobierno del encuentro” (the “meeting” government) has sped up regulatory procedures in the institutions responsible for regulating and controlling mining activity, promoting a policy centred on guaranteeing the legal certainty for large companies. Implementing the current mining policy means that our country will acquire a 78.4 million dollar debt with the International Development Bank – money destined, among other things, to create a business environment favourable to foreign investment.
This policy has already begun to bear fruit, as seen by the statement made by current Minister of Energy and Mines Xavier Vera Grunauer who, accompanied by a delegation from the Chamber of Mines, announced at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada 2022 (PDAC) Convention that the mining title system will be reopened this year. He also announced that in the Ecuadorian mining sector, there are other investment opportunities for ventures in gold refineries, the mining train, industrial parks, and others – all of which are high-impact activities. The Minister avoided mentioning at the international conference that the offers he is making to companies are located in territories where there are dignified communities who have long been opposed to mining activities that violate their rights and that turn their territories into sacrifice zones.
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