7 May: Minister Comes Down Hard on the Company

By , May 4, 2007
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On the Ministy of Energy and Mines May 3rd news release, the Ministry lashed out against the mining company for it’s bad practices in Imbabura. See below for the extract, which makes reference to a protest march in which Ascendant employees participated in. The full translation of the official document is below.

MINISTER ACOSTA DENOUNCES BAD PRACTICES OF MINING COMPANY IN DIALOGUE WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF ECUADOR’S NATIONAL CHAMBER OF MINING
(taken from Ministry of Enegy and Mines newsrelease)

“…..In light of the high level of conflicts affecting industrial mining projects in different parts of the country, the participants in this forum agreed with Minister Acosta that there is an important citizen’s reaction against these projects, which in a few cases could be on the brink of “local civil wars”. These large projects- said the minister- have managed to divide the communities, fool the people, fuel rent-seeking, and social manipulation. He showed photographs and documents, and Minister Acosta presented as an example the behavior of a mining company in Imbabura, which, besides secretly taping the Minister’s private conversations in the Governor’s office of Imbabura, schemes and finances protests against the government in the city of Ibarra, last Friday 20th of April, in which the company’s vice president of said company, a foreign national, also actively participated…..” (Click here for original news release in Spanish)

On May 3rd, on the other hand, the Minister sent James Stonehouse, Ascendant’s Vice President, a stinging letter accompanied by photographs of the April 20th protests (image above) In it, the Minister accuses the company of using the needs of ex employees of Ascendant Copper to involve them in political activism. He goes on to imply such illegal activities are being used as a pretext for not complying with labor regulations in regards to the fired employees. Finally the Minister questions the fact that a “foreigner” took part in politica activities against a government official and reminds the company it is responsible for monitoring the relationships with its employees and ex-employees in strict compliance with the nation’s laws. (see below for full translation of document and and view this image of the original letter.)

KEEP TUNED – A LOT MORE IS COMING!

En el boletin de prensa publicado por el Ministerio de Energia y Minas del 2 de Mayo, el Ministro denuncia a una empresa operando en Imbabura- sitio del proyecto minero de la empresa Ascendant Copper- y hace referencia a una protesta en la cual participaron empleados de Ascendant.

A continuacion extractos del comunicado de prensa

MINISTRO ACOSTA DENUNCIA MALAS PRACTICAS DE EMPRESA MINERA EN DIALOGO CON REPRESENTANTES DE LA CAMARA NACIONAL DE MINERIA DEL ECUADOR
(…..)Frente a la alta conflictividad que afecta a los proyectos mineros en escala industrial en varias zonas del pais, los participantes en este dialogo estuvieron de acuerdo con el ministro Acosta de que existe una importante reaccion ciudadana en contra de estos proyectos, que en algunos casos pueden estar al borde de -guerras civiles localizadas-. Estos grandes proyectos -dijo el ministro- han logrado dividir a las comunidades, enganiar a la gente, fomentar el clientelismo y la manipulacion social. Presentando fotografias y documentos, el ministro Acosta puso como ejemplo de esta situación, la conducta de una compañía minera concesionaria en Imbabura que además de grabar encubiertamente conversaciones privadas del ministro Acosta en la Gobernación de Imbabura; planifica y financia las manifestaciones contra el gobierno en la ciudad de Ibarra, el pasado viernes 20 de abril, en la que tambien participo activamente un ciudadano extranjero, vicepresidente de dicha companía. (….)
Para ver el original ingrese a: http://www.menergia.gov.ec:8081/noticias/secciones/news/list.do?reqCode=doView&nid=19

Por otra parte, el 3 de mayo, el Ministro le envio a James Stonehouse, vice presidente de Ascendant, un oficio acompaniado de fotografIas de la protesta del 20 de abril aludido en el comunicado de prensa del 2 de mayo. En las palabras del Ministro:

Con base a las fotografias adjuntas, que fueron tomadas en la ciudad de Ibarra el 20 de abril pasado, sorprende que un ciudadano extranjero participe en actos politicos en contra de funcionarios del Estado Ecuatoriano.
Es de total responsabilidad de su empresa el manejar adecuadamente y bajo absoluto respeeto del ordenamiento juridico ecuatoriano las relaciones con sus empleados y ex-empleados sin que esta responsabilidad sea transferida a ningun otro ente o institución.
Por tanto, considero inaceptable la utilizacion de las necesidades vitales de ex-trabajadores de la compania ASCENDANT COPPER para fines de activismo politico y sobre todo, que este tipo de acciones apartas de la ley sean u pretexto para no cumplir con los compromisos laborales que le corresponde a su empresa con las personas despedidas-

Translated May 3rd document:

Ministry of Energy and Mines
Republic of Ecuador

Official Document number 0434 DM 0706142

Quito, May 3 2007

Mr. James Stonehouse
Executive Vice President
Ascendant Copper

To whom it may concern,

Based on the enclosed photographs, which were taken this past Friday, April 20th in the city of Ibarra, it is surprising to find a foreign national participating in political activities against functionaries of the Ecuadorian government.

It is the responsibility of your company to adequately manage, under complete respect of the judicial system, the relationships with your employees and ex-employees, without this responsibility being transferable to any other entity or institution.

Therefore, I consider it unacceptable to exploit the essential necessities of ASCENDANT COPPER ex-employees for political activities purposes and, moreover, that these kinds of unlawful activities would be a pretext for not abiding by labor commitments corresponding to your company and the persons fired.

Sincerely,

(Original signed by)
Alberto Acosta
Minister of Energy and Mines

Cc Dra. Maria Fernanda Espinosa
Minister of Foreign Relations, Trade and Integration

Dr. Gustavo Larrea
Minister of Government and Police

Dr. Antonio Gagliardo
Minister of Labor and Employment

Dr. Alexis Mera Giler
General Legal Secretary, Presidency of the Republic

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