By , December 5, 2011

LAST (and quick) UPDATE FOR 2011
FINALLY!!!! Earth Economic’s Economic groundbreaking Analysis of Intag’s ecosystem value

Word has it that Codelco will try to go into the Paraiso area within two weeks. Their Environmental Impact Study was approved- something we confirmed from a high government official. Organizations will meet in the next week to discuss best options.

Needless to say, we are counting on your support. THERE ARE many things we can use from our supporters- such as digital camera equipment; international volunteers, and so on. If you’d like to help, please drop us a line.

But not all is doom and gloom. DECOIN continues to plant thousands of native tree species in protected community land that we helped purchase. Over 900 hectares conserved this year with help from GEO schützt den Regenwald. THANK YOU GEO.

We are also expanding our work to include more environmental education in schools and communities (our thanks to the wonderful people at the Sloth Club).

There are many other things we are up to, BUT PROBABLY THE BIGGEST NEWS is that FINALLY, the Economic Analysis of Intag’s Ecosystem is done, and published
The reports highlights the productiveness of ecosystems, and compares it to the high costs of of mining and its impacts on the environment. One of the main objectives of the DECOIN-contracted study, was to show government officials the real costs of mining in places like Intag, and just how productive ecosystems are.

We are sure the report will help many communities in different parts of the world.
We’ll soon be receiving the hard-back copies to distribute to high, mid and low level government officials, as well as to orgnanizations.

OUR MOST SINCERE AND HEARTFELT THANK YOU to all of you who have gone out of your way to help us in Intag continue to create an alternative to the insanity consuming the world.




As we read in the press release below, CODELCO (Chilean mining company) reports that the Ecuadorian government has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for El Paraíso project, which is close to the Junín copper mining project located in Intag, Imbabura Province. The press release – where the mining concession is referred to as El Palmar – also highlights the fact that both the company and the Ecuadorian government are interested in participating in several copper mining projects in northern Ecuador. So far, Intag is the only site in the north where copper deposits have been found. (Original press release here:

It should be noted that the EIA, as mentioned in CODELCO’s press release, was supposedly developed for an advanced exploration phase. However, the CEDHU (Ecumenical Commission for Human Rights) holds a document by the Ministry of Environment according to which the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment –a mandatory requisite for the advanced exploration phase EIA to be approved – does not even exist.

Unfortunately, this is not the only flaw with this mining project. About six months ago, the García Moreno parish government (Cotacachi Canton), in consort with DECOIN (Defense and Conservation of Intag) and the CEDHU, presented a very well grounded opposing posture based on the technical and scientific errors contained in the EIA, as well as on the illegal community consultation process and socialization of the EIA, which excluded four out of the five communities that live within the project area.

Up to this date, the Ministry of Environment has given no response to any of the comments and claims made through this opposing posture, despite the fact that the CEDHU and the Ombudsman have requested such a response more than once. On the other hand, the Ministry of Environment itself highlighted 28 points of dissent with regard to the EIA carried out by the Calidad Ambiental (Environmental Quality) company. Surprisingly, on November 28, we found out about the approval of the latest EIA, which was not socialized with the local governments, let alone the communities within the area of influence of the mining project.

This mining project is threatening primary and secondary forests, five sources of water, and the habitat of at least 12 species of endangered fauna, and the source of drinking water for two communities. To make matters worse, the project area is exceptionally rich in archaeological remains of the Yumbo culture. One of the biggest risks is that the start of this illegitimate project could cause new clashes in the area of Intag and Mandariyacos, since most communities, local governments and NGOs in the area of influence remain firmly opposed to mining.

Según el comunicado de prensa que sigue, CODELCO (empresa minera Chilena) informa que el gobierno ecuatoriano

aprobó el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental para el proyecto El Paraíso, el cual se encuentra muy cercano al proyecto cuprífero JUNIN, ubicado en la Zona de Intag, Provincia de Imbabura (en el boletín de prensa se refieren a dicha concesión minera como El Palmar). El boletín también menciona el interés de la empresa y del gobierno ecuatoriano de intervenir en varios proyectos cupríferos en el norte del país.  El único lugar donde se ha descubierto yacimientos de cobre en el norte del Ecuador, es en la zona de Intag.


Cabe señalar que el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental ( EIA) aludido en el boletín de CODELCO fue supuestamente elaborado para la exploración avanzada.  Sin embargo, según un oficio en manos de la CEDHU del Ministerio del Ambiente, no existe el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental Inicial- requisito indispensable para que se apruebe el EIA para la exploración avanzada.


Pero esta no es la única irregularidad relacionada a este proyecto minero.  Hace aproximadamente seis meses, el gobierno Parroquial de García Moreno (Cantón Cotacachi), juntamente con la CEDHU y la DECOIN presentó una oposición muy bien fundamentada basada en los errores técnicos y científicos del Estudio de Impacto Ambiental,  al igual que en la ilegítima consulta con las comunidades,  y en la socialización del EIA, la cual excluyó a cuatro de las cinco comunidades dentro del área del proyecto.


Hasta la fecha, el Ministerio del Ambiente no ha respondido a las observaciones y reclamos realizadas en dicha oposición, a pesar de ser solicitado en más de una ocasión por la CEDHU y el Defensor del Pueblo.   Por otro lado, el propio Ministerio del Ambiente resaltó 28 puntos de inconformidad relacionados al EIA, el cual fue llevado a cabo por la empresa Calidad Ambiental.  Sorpresivamente, nos enteramos el día 28 de noviembre de la aprobación del nuevo EIA sin que se hubiera socializado con los gobiernos locales, y peor aún con las comunidades dentro del área de influencia del proyecto minero.


Este proyecto minero amenaza bosques primarios y secundarios y cinco fuentes de agua, además que el hábitat de por lo menos 12 especies de animales en peligro de extincción, y la fuente de agua bebible de dos comunidades. Como si fuera poco, el área del proyecto es excepcionalmente rica en vestigios arqueológicos de la cultura Yumbo.  Uno de los mayores riesgos es que el arranque de este ilegítimo proyecto provoque nuevos enfrentamientos en la zona de Intag y los Mandariyacos, ya que la mayoría de las comunidades, gobiernos locales y ONG en el área de influencia mantienen una firme oposición a la minería.

But, here is


I recently had a look at the government’s brand new mining development plan for 20II-20I5. Junin is mentioned several times, not just as having an incredible 40% of the country’s mineral wealth (supposedly 84 billion dollars worth- quite a stretch!!), but also because the government thinks it can start working in Junin in 2012. Where does this leave CODELCO? The world’s largest copper producer (owned by the Chilean Government and its people) is trying very hard to look for copper just west of Junin- in the vicinity of the El Paraiso community. Apparently, the individual who owns the concession, has $omehow managed to get approval the first stage of the Environmental Impact Study. But, bear in mind that CODELCO only does mega mining project- coincidentally, in the world’s driest desert (the Atacama, in northern Chile). They will not consider relatively small projects as might exist in the 800 hectare concession they are playing around in at the moment. It’s pretty clear their sights are set on Junin, and they are likely seeing it as a joint-venture with the Ecuadorian government.

Why do I say Codelco will surely fail in Junin? Let me count the ways:
Because they started on the wrong foot: lying to locals, failing to consult in good faith, and trying to buy the support they need with money and promises (Duh!, that’s creative!!)
Because they know, or should know, that the overwhelming majority of communities, organizations, and local governments in Intag reject mining as a model of development in (hello in there… two transnationals defeated, and what can you do that they others didn’t?). In a recent national anti-mining assembly, the rejection of Codelco’s presence in Intag was vociferous as it was total. And if that wasn’t enough, in a recent development that should grow a few grey hairs in Chile, the mayor of Cotacachi County, Alberto Andrango, publicly stated (newspaper interview in August of this year) his rejection for mining for the whole County, and that his government will support tourism and agriculture instead.
Because they know, or should know, that the area is rich in primary cloud forests that are the home of dozens of species of mammals and birds facing extinction. And because open-pit mining is illegal in Cotacachi County. It was outlawed in 2000 with the passing of the legally-binding Cotacachi Ecological County Ordinance. Plus, they are practically surrounded by and within four protected areas (the Los Cedros, and the Chontal Protected Forests, the Toisan Municipal Protected Area, and the Junin Community Reserve). Not enough? How about that where they are looking for copper is extraordinarily rich in pre-Spanish archeological vestiges belonging to a people which very, very little is known about? Oh, and by the way, for all practical purposes, mining is illegal in such sites.
Because they know, or should know, that the people in Intag will not allow it. During the course of the last almost 17 years of standing up to transnationals, they’ve learned a few tricks. They made Mitsubishi clear out in 1997, and then Copper Mesa in 2008. In the case of the latter, not only did it have to abandon Intag, but the company lost its concessions, was kicked off the Toronto Stock Exchange, and was sued in Canada. It hasn’t been heard from since.

Surely, at a time when hundreds of thousands of Chileans are taking to the streets to protest in favor of improved public education, the Chilean government can think of better things to do with its citizen’s money than to throw away in a mining project that is guaranteed to fail.

Carlos Zorrilla


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