27/03- MAJOR policy Changes; ; Ascending distortion, and other news

By , March 26, 2007
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ESPANIOL YA MISMO!
See below for the Spanish version of the Reuters News article about the government announcing bringing back royalties to tax the extraction of minerals from Ecuador’s subsoil. As you can see, it specifically named Ascendant Copper and Corrientes Resources as two of the companies which would be directly affected.

The article also said something very important, with direct consequences for Ascendant and Corrientes: that it would review, and annul, the concessions where irregularities were found. If there’s a mining project whose the concessions are irregular, it’s Ascendant Copper’s.

At the end of the article, the Minister was quoted as saying that: “We are going to paralize mining activities where confrontations take place. I am not going to allow bloodshed”

Another extract from the article:
The Minister said that the implementation of the royalties will be part of the review of the mining concessions announced by Correa, a 43 year-old nationalist in power since January 15th

Also, though not on the article but widely reported on the press, on the 10th of April the Minister of Energy and Mines will unveil the rest of the Mining Policy changes at Portovelo- an old mining town. Yesterday he clearly stated that the policy will center on supporting small miners make mining more economic, social, and enviornmentally sustainable.

My take is that he’s going to move away from large scale mining, or revert the situation completely so that mining is no longer a pillage of the country’s natural resources, as it has been for centuries.

Ecuador quiere incluir regalías en contratos mineros

Major Mining Policy Changes in Store
State of Emergency for the Mining Sector
Ascendant Distorting of the Truth Again?

Major article on today’s El Comercio newspaper (Ecuador’s second largest) referring to upcoming to major policy changes in the mining sector.

(http://elcomercio.terra.com.ec/noticiaEC.asp?id_noticia=100703&id_seccion=6

The article makes reference to a proposed 3 to 4% royalty initiative to tax natural resource ; that the mining law needs overhauling, that there is widespread speculation with the country’s mining concessions, with only about 17% of the country’s more than 4,000 concessions actually in the exploitation stage; and that mining does not benefit Ecuador.

Finally, the article mentioned that the new reforms should aim at stopping the practice of mining companies supplying services to the communities, and that the State should be responsible for this, and be funded by income from mining should the state

Emergency Decree
President Correa and his Ministry of Energy and Mines have stated in the past few days that the government will issue a Emergency decree for the mining sector in order to deal with the conflicts and violence surrounding mining projects. Undoubtedly Ascendant’s behavior in the Junin project is one of the reasons the government will take this drastic measure.

Misinforming again?

TODAY Ascendant released a bulletin rife with misinformation; including:

1. To begin with, in the signing of the agreement between the government and the company there was no one from the Provincial Government involved. The provincial government is headed by the Province’s Prefect- who had nothing to do with the signing of either one of the agreements. The governor, who did sign, represents and is directly appointed by- the Executive branch.

2. Nowhere does in the agreement the community signed does it say that the communties will guarantee free access to Ascendant’s personnel.

The communities and local governments are insisting that Ascendant has to comply with the December 8th Stop work issued by the Ministry of Energy- which the company has not respected. The order called for a halt to all of Ascendant’s activities, and was not limited to mining activities. Therefore, the opposition is still firmly resisting the presence of Ascendant in the Intag area, and has vowed to do so until the company leaves.

3. The bulleting claims that the company met “with representatives of the ecological group opposing mining activities in the region”, trying to make it sound like it met with DECOIN, and that we signed the agreement with the government. We most emphatically did not meet with Ascendant, nor took part of the meeting, or signed anything. In fact, none of our representatives were anywhere Ibarra, site of the meeting. Who did sign was the representative of the local Community Development Council- one of the dozens of community groups opposed to the mining project. They are NOT part of Decoin. Ascendant should have correctly identified who it was that signed.

DECOIN, as well as the Community Development Council, still maintains a firm opposition to Ascendant’s presence in Intag and the Junin mining project.

4. It’s worth pointing out that the guns in question in the distorted news bulleting are the ones that the communities confiscated from the paramilitary group in December when they tried, unsuccessfully, to access what the company considers to be their land.

The group was hired WITH ASCENDANT COPPER CORPORATION money, and were supposedly contracted by Falericorp, a company that was illegally working in the country at the time of the violent confrontation, which left one community member wounded by gunfire. The communities arrested 57 of these hired guns and confiscated their guns. However, the police has stated that they will carry out searches to confiscate all guns- even those in possession of mining employees if they find any.

Ascendant has repeatedly said that the company is an agricultural company- yet official government documents literally say that Falericorp’s business objective is: “data transmission”- taken to mean the sale and servicing of telecommunication equipment.

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