Ascendent’s New Claims are Misleading

By , April 24, 2005
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Dear All,
I don’t know what you can do about all the lies on Ascendant Corporation’s new web page, but this is my first take on this one particular page.

The information on their website is totally misleading. For starters, as I mentioned earlier, even the Japanese, in the 1996 report, counted 40 families in Junin (100 counting the rest of the communities) slated for relocation. This was based on 76 million tons of ore Bishimetals discovered. Ascendant says it has 1,300 million tons. So, how many more families would need relocation if they are right?

CLAIM: A photo of a plowed field they claim is Junin

This photo is actually part of Ascendant Exploration’s La Florida “model farm” with its newly plowed field (hard corn was planted). Junin is up river about a 2 hour walk, or on the road about 40 minutes further. Had they aimed their lens a little bit higher, they would have captured thickly forested Toisan Range.

CLAIM: There are no indeginous tribes in the area. The region was settled by Colonos (Mestizo slash & burn farmers and loggers) in the 1950s and their presence has continued to expand ever since. As the largest county in the entire country The Garcia Mareno Parish is still sparsely populated with approx 5000 inhabitants.

I believe this might be the only true statement in the whole thing – BUT they do manage to omit the archeological wealth of the area, which was reported by the Japanese.

CLAIM: The only available resource for the locals to exploit for personal benefit has been and continues to be the surrounding forest, which every day the locals exploit. The exotic and highly economic species have practically disappeared and the region in general has been totally devastated by logging.

FACT: THE JAPANESE EIA clearly foresees “massive deforestation” as one of the impacts of mining. I just wanted to check if there can be such deforestation without forests? I suppose so from their perspective. It would be nice to see if we can get a current SATELLITE PHOTO of the Toisan Range in the mining area to put up on our website and send in with the claim. ALSO, the main economic activity is NOT LOGGING, but Naranjilla, tree tomatoe, regular tomatoe production, and cattle raising. There is a small amount of logging going on, but on a irregular basis. Also, tourism (mainly Junin) is starting to grow.

CLAIM: The company has also worked successfully with the Imbabura Provincial Government, Rural Integral Development (DRI-Cotacachi), and others in mayor infrastructure projects in the region.

FACT: THEY SHOULD PROVE THIS BEFORE MAKING THIS FALSE STATEMENT. WE RECENTLY WERE TOLD BY BOTH DRI AND THE IMBABURA PROVINCIAL GOV HEADS THAT THEY HAVE NOT COLLABORATED ON BUILDING ANYTHING. WE COULD SOMEONE ASK FOR COPIES OF CONTRACTS BETWEEN THE INSTITUTIONS?

CLAIM: One of the major benefits of the Junin project is financial resource generation that will enable the financing of many legitimate infrastructe, heath, social, educational and conservation efforts on a scale that has not been witnessed before in Ecuador. The Junin project is perhaps the only viable solution in saving the cloud forests and preserving what remains of the biodiversity.

In the twisted and perverted Junin story, no greater ironic statement has ever been heard.

CLAIM: CODEGAM is an independent community based development council that incorporates the participation of all townships and authorities in the area. Since the companies first visits to the Parish of García Moreno, the majority of the community leaders and citizens have been present in SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) seminars, held and directed by Ascendants independent consultants.

FACT: CODEGAM is little known outside some communities in García Moreno, and obviously, part of the company. NOT A SINGLE Parish President holding power today, in fact, officially collaborates with CODEGAM, and most of them openly repudiate its practice of trying to represent their Parishes (they are circulating a letter right now stating this publicly). The only exception may be the García Moreon president, who is new, and is receiving threats to support CODEGAMs agenda. In the past they’ve paid people to attend their “meetings” and assemblies, and provide free transport and plenty of food at these events. Then they pass around a “assistance” sheet and use these to claim their supported by everyone. THE ONLY PEOPLE SO FAR GIVING THESE SEMINARS HAVE BEEN ASCENDANT EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING GENERAL VILLACIS AND POLANCO, PLUS RONALD ANDRADE.

CLAIM: Possible economic contribution of the JUNIN project.
Potential Investment: Based on preliminary estimates the mine would require a capital investment of $975 million dollars including a 100 MW Hydro electric plant.
Local and National Benefits:
a) New Roads
b) Schools
c) Regional Hospital
d) Housing
e) New and enhanced Utilities
f) Long-Term Local & Regional development assistance
g) The generation of employment for well over 30 years
h) More than 2,000 high paying direct jobs
i) More than 6,000 indirect jobs
j) Annual usage of millions of dollars in Ecuadorian goods and services
k) Annual Corporate income Tax (25%) greater than $100,000,000
l) Mine life span: 30+ years

FOR THIS SECTION WE COULD USE SOME EXPERT ADVISE — I’M TALKING ABOUT ANALYSING THE 400 MILLON DOLLAR ANNUAL PROFIT FROM THE MINE (based on their estimate below of income tax revenues) — how realistic is this? Given a reserve of 318 million tons ore deposit (at 0.7% Cu), and a wishful thinking 1,300 million ton ore deposit (at, best, 0.4% copper). How many years of exploitation given an usual extraction rate for a mine this big?

CLAIM: The construction of the García Moreno Magnolia Loma Negra road.

This road was built by the national government probably a decade or more ago, and has until recently been maintained by the Provincial government

CLAIM: With the road machinery available three soccer fields are being constructed which include access roads.

The García Moreno soccer field has been under construction for 6 months, and all it entails is the levelling of ground enough to play soccer – don’t know about access roads, but usually implies 50-100 meters of road building to access the, now flatten field. Also, in the photograph caption they mention two soccer fields.

CLAIM: The assistance in bridge building: Río Chalguayacu, Río Chontal and Río Magdalena.

These bridges have been built by the provincial government and or DRI, a Spanish NGO. What they mean by assistance might be providing rum or some food for the workers.

CLAIM: Other projects they are taking credit for, include:
· Repair of the García Mareno Church roof.
(It might be, we’ll find out details)
· Conversion of the dirt entrance of Garcia Mareno to concrete (the last few hundred meters of the “entrance to García Moreno has been cobble stone for probably close to a decade, possibly two.
· Assistance with potable water infrastructure (They should name the towns and specific projects; we are not aware of any)
· Assistance with the Chontal School playground (we don’t know about this, but necessary to find out what they did)

Assistance with government applications for funding of:
· Electrical grid expansion (boy is this a lie. The Municipality has been in charge of 100% of the electrification of Intag)
· Communal buildings (Again, they should specify so we could prove either way. We are not aware of any communal building they have built- but they might have helped the community of Chalguayacu Alto solicit a school building )
· Road Maintenance (yes, they have maintained a bit of the García Moreno-Magnolia road, but many people are upset at the poor quality and the slowness of the work)
· General infrastructure projects (They should specify)

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