*****ASCENDANT FINISHED IN INTAG- FIN DE ASCENDANT EN INTAG

By , January 26, 2008
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AS THE MINISTRY HAS SAID, THE REVISION OF THE CONCESSIONS WILL CONTINUE AND WILL PROBABLY RESULT IN HUNDREDS OF OTHER CONCESSIONS REVERTING BACK TO THE STATE!!

Ecuador revokes hundreds of mine concessions

(Adds deputy mining minister’s comments and details, paragraphs 11-19)
By Alonso Soto and Alexandra Valencia
QUITO, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Ecuador’s leftist government revoked hundreds of mining concessions on Friday, highlighting its determination to boost control over the Andean nation’s natural resources.
Shares of Canada’s junior mining company Ascendant Copper plunged 28 percent in Toronto after it lost a high-profile project. But the measure had little effect on some of the biggest players in the sector.
Mining and Petroleum Minister Galo Chiriboga told reporters the state was revoking 587 mining contracts because companies failed to pay fees on concessions for reserves of copper, gold and other metals.
“Based on legal norms, (the government) decided to revoke these contracts,” he said.
Ascendant, which lost its Junin project, accused the government of President Rafael Correa of bowing to pressure from environmental groups.
“None of this is true … the government was rushed into this,” John Haigh, Ascendant’s investor relations chief, said in a telephone interview.
Ecuador has little precious metal output, but dozens of foreign companies are exploring in the sector where nearly 4,000 concessions have been awarded.
By scrapping concessions, Correa sent a signal to the private sector that he wanted to overhaul rules for the industry. But the ally of Venezuelan’s leftist President Hugo Chavez also avoided a battle with the most important foreign investors who generate revenue for the impoverished nation.
Last year, Correa moved more aggressively against foreign oil companies, ordering them to hand over almost all of their windfall profits from high prices.
Since then, Correa has shown signs of moderating his radical policies as his popularity ratings have fallen mainly due to perceptions he is too confrontational.
CORREA RULES
Ecuador’s Deputy Mining Minister Jose Serrano later told Reuters that Friday’s move was “not an action against mining but a move to put the sector in order.”
He warned that the government could revoke more concessions later this year as part of an ongoing probe.
Those concessions will be later auctioned, but he denied speculation that revoked concessions will be later awarded to a planned state mining company.
Serrano said the move would not affect the country’s biggest companies, which include Canadian miners Aurelian Resources, Corriente Resources and Iamgold Corp.
In the case of Ascendant, the government had already limited the company’s work. Last year, it ordered the company to halt the Junin project’s operations on charges it had violated mining regulations.
Serrano said Ascendant can appeal the order.
Friday’s announcement should help appease environmentalists and residents across southern Ecuador, where most of the mining concessions are located. They have lobbied Correa to increase control over mining concessions following complaints the state was indiscriminately handing out contracts in previous years.
The government has already started negotiations with Aurelian and Corriente on their terms for doing business in Ecuador and boost state participation in current deals.
In general, it wants to rewrite rules for the industry by introducing royalties, making it more difficult to grant concessions and setting a windfall tax that should ensure more state revenue. (Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by David Gregorio)


FIN DE ASCENDANT EN INTAG:
ES IMPORTANT SEÑALAR QUE ESTE ES SOLO EL PRIMER PASO DE LA REVISIÓN DE LAS CONCESIONES EN EL PAÍS (cz)

http://www.lahora.com.ec/frontEnd/main.php?idSeccion=673537
La reversión de 587 concesiones mineras anunció ayer el ministro de Minas y Petróleos, Galo Chiriboga, quien explicó que esta decisión se dio debido a la falta de pago de patentes de conservación, como lo establece la Ley de Minería y el Reglamento General Sustitutivo del Reglamento General de la Ley de Minería.

“No es una acción contra la minería”, dijo Chiriboga e indicó que la reversión de esas concesiones suman un total de 536.387,58 hectáreas.

Dijo que el Ministerio de Minas y Petróleos remitirá a la Contraloría los expedientes de aquellas concesiones que no pagaron sus patentes para que abra los respectivos juicios coactivos.

El ministro explicó que éste es un primer informe respecto a la caducidad de las concesiones y adelantó que el proceso de revisión continuará y en los próximos días se incorporarán nuevas concesiones mineras que serán caducadas en cumplimiento a lo establecido en la Ley de Minería actual.

Además, expresó que se revirtió las concesiones Golden 1 y Golden 2, ubicadas en Íntag y cuyo propietario era la compañía.

Ascendant Copper, debido a que las mismas fueron otorgadas al amparo del artículo 7 de una de las leyes “trole”, que determinaba que la concesión minera era un derecho real; es decir, como tener un bien inmueble, una casa o un terreno.

Esto, a criterio de Chiriboga, ha generado un manejo dispendioso de las concesiones mineras. “Una sola persona tiene cien concesiones”, aseveró.

El titular de la cartera de Minas y Petróleos aseguró que las notificaciones de las caducidades fueron ya notificadas a los concesionarios.

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