By , July 5, 2012



Enami tries to establish a presence in Intag and hopes to succeed where Mitsubishi and Copper Mesa failed

You were with us for the first exciting season of Mining Paradise in the 1990’s, when Bishimetals, a Mitsubishi subsidiary, spent years exploring for copper in Intag’s Toisan Cordillera, thanks to one of those wonderful “international development project”, paid by the Japanese taxpayers. The project sought to help poor Ecuadorians by looking for and developing copper mines.  Japan, to date, depends 100% on copper imports, so that the real reason for the international aid was exposed during the opening episodes.   As you recall, the season ended rather abruptly in 1997 when the communities in Intag decided that mining was not the kind of development they wanted, and burned the Bishimetals mining camp to the ground. No one was really surprised, since the Environmental Impact Study, done  for a very small mine, called for widespread environmental devastation and social upheaval, including massive deforestation, impact to dozens of endangered animal species, rivers contaminated with heavy metals, relocation of four communities and increase in crime.

 The next few seasons featured the work of organizations coming up with sustainable economic and social alternatives to the mining holocaust, including shade-grown coffee and community tourism, both Decoin initiatives.  It also featured a couple of episodes of DECOIN and AACRI challenging Prodeminca, a World Bank mining project, whose sole objective was to open up Ecuador to large-scale mining.

 The next season featured the Intag community’s response to the new actor, Copper Mesa (name changed from Ascendant Copper), and included many episodes featuring the illegal and violent strategies used by the company to try and break the opposition to mining.  You will recall one of the more memorable episodes of the community taking prisoners 56 ex-military dressed as security guards, who the company insisted were “agricultural consultants”.  A couple of episodes included the story of the police raid on Carlos’ farm at 6am in the morning to try to arrest him based on made up charges, and the lone police leaving a gun and a suspicious substance in his home to generate new criminal charges.

This action-packed season, which included the burning down of Copper Mesa’s mining camp in Chalguyacu Bajo, false arrest of Intag leaders, an attempt by the company’s mercenaries to violently try to access its concessions via the communities of Barcelona and Cerro Pelado, plus the training of some Intag residents in paramilitary skills outside Quito by the company’s subcontractors, concluded when the company went broke as a result of being kicked off the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2010.  Prior to that ending, the company and the Toronto Stock Exchange were sued by three Intag residents,  in a ground-breaking lawsuit which had much to do with the subsequent delisting from the Exchange, and bankrupting the company.

 On the last episode, we warned that it was a matter of time before some other fool and/or company would try to resume where these two had utterly failed.  Thus, the official start of the new season of Mining Paradise, includes the first steps by ENAMI, the state-owned Ecuadorian mining company, which is currently trying to establish a base camp in Villadorita- relatively close to JUNIN (the rumors were true).  Its plans, according to a slip by one of the employees, is to “go into Junin” next year (after the elections).  

It does goes to show that there is no end to the stupidity that the false promise (read greed)  of mining wealth produces in individuals, corporations and governments.  Just to give an example of what Im referring to:  The wealth of Intag’s ecosystem services amounts to no less than $447 millon PER YEAR, in perpetuity, as reported in the Earth Economic’s An Ecological Study of Ecuador’s Intag Region ( ((We hope to deliver the report to many of Ecuador’s decision makers later this month)

On the other hand, Mining will, in the process of creating a few year’s worth of economic wealth, destroy the foundations of Intag’s ecosystems, contaminate rivers for centuries, plus wreak social havoc in the communities.   Yet, here we are again facing the same sh..,, just now from a different bull (a much bigger, much more dangerous bull)

ENAMI, by the way, is not alone. Since it has no clue of how to explore for minerals, much less have the intellectual capacity or experience of opening a large-scale mine, they teamed up with CODELCO, the world’s largest producer of copper.  CODELCO, however, as is the case with most large companies that are afraid of dirtying its hands and earning a bad reputation on one of its first overseas ventures, will probably sit on the sidelines as the government, with all its might and nearsightedness, tries to “pacify” the natives.

What carrots and sticks the government will use in its native-pacification program, and whether, as previously, it will involve gross human rights violations and how the Intag communities react to the pacification, remains to be seen, but it will be featured in the next episodes of this new season.  We can only hope intelligence spontaneously erupts among in the government circles making decisions affecting Intag’s future (Im pessimistic it will occur any other way), and they choose to leave us alone.  We want to avoid the violence affecting countries like Peru, where recently another four five activist died in protests against a gold mine, which hasn’t even been built).

In this case, Im sure you will not be disappointed if this new season comes to an abrupt, and happy, ending!!

 Stay tuned, there’s a lot more to this story


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By , July 1, 2012

Para traducir al español:


State-owned mining company talks of opening an office in Intag

Radio Intag, conservation, and the work ahead

ENAMI stands for Empresa Nacional Minera, Ecuador’s state-owned mining company. It came into being in 2009, after the passing of the new mining law, in order not to let the transnationals be the only ones pillaging the country’s mineral resources. They have ZERO experience in large-scale metal mining, since Ecuador has no large-scale metal mines.This is why the Ecuadorian government, in its infinite wisdom, decided to strike a deal with CODELCO, the Chilean state-owned mining company, and the largest producer of copper on the planet (11% of the world’s total). CODELCO has zero experience in mining anywhere else but very, very dry deserts. Their main operations are in the Atacama desert, where sometimes it doesn’t rain at all, and the average rainfall is 1mm per year. CODELCO, if your read these blogs every once in a while, were mining paradise a couple of months ago; just west of JUNIN.

I reported 3 weeks or so ago how ENAMI employees came to Intag on World Environmental Day (June 5th) to interview people in order to, supposedly, get a better grasp of people’s perceptions on mining-

Well, if our usually reliable source proves correct, yesterday ENAMI took the first step in stablishling a presence in Intag. They allegedly met with a few people in a very small village close to Garcia Moreno (Villadorita), and, according to our source, said they were interested in establishing an office. They also offered to help the communities with all kinds of things,. Plus..blablablablablabla. Not very creative. The same sh..,, just a different bull.

As soon as I get a confirmation or more news Ill post.

RADIO INTAG. Is the local radio station that has been around for about 8 or 10 years. It’s the only radio station that comes in clear in most of Intag, and one that at least DECOIN has used a lot of in the past, and supported for all these years buying air time. It is also the baby of a very proud Inteño, who has shelled out a lof of money from his own pocket to maintain it. It is also a radio station threatend by sick politics of the Correa gov. I supposed most of you don’t know that the Ecuadorian government- led by Correa himself- has an very nasty and abusive campaign meant to silence all but the government media. He lashes out several times a week against the “corrupt press”, publicly insults journalists (TV, radio and paper) and even tells his loyal followers not to buy certain, non-governmental press. Well, lately the government has closed down six radio stations for, allegedly, not complying with regulations. As you might have guessed, they are almost exclusively critical of the regime. In order to keep doing our part in supporting the Radio, we are going to start buying more air time to broadcast environmental messages. We hope other organizations also help, but it seems we are the only ones right now helping the radio. If you are interested in helping out, please get in touch.

Otherwise, it seems like a El Niño weather phenomenon is heading our way, which means more rain, less crops, and ruined roads. Last year was wet enough to significantly impact good Intag’s coffee harvest.

Even though it’s becoming more difficult to buy land because land price rise and bureacratic hassles, we are still trying to set up community reserves to protect biodiversity and water. Just the parish of Cuellaje has some 3,600 hectares owned and administered by them, and something like 40 communities own their own watershed and or forests reserves. The Apuela Parish government has over a thousand hectares in their name.

Good bye to a good friend and backer.

One of our most important backers helping us set up dozens of community reserves, just left Ecuador for home (England). We wish Fiona all the best, and are sincerely and deeply grateful for her and Rainforest Concern’s support all these years. They will still be involved in Ecuador, but much less than the past few years.

By the way, we are trying to get enough funding to kick off an environmental education project off the ground. Please don’t be shy if you want to help. We want to visit 15 schools and share with them information about Intag’s biodiversity, give away books and posters, and hopefully, go for walks in the forets with the kids. Thank you Angela Lee for teaching our people about how to do this invaluable work!!!

This is it for now. Too tired. More as soon as I confirm the news about ENAMI.






Rio +20: What did you expect?

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By , June 23, 2012

Rio +20: What did you expect?


It’s over. The long-awaited Earth Summit.  By most standards, the event, which brought official delegates from 188 countries- including 100 heads of state-  was a monumental let-down.  Greenpeace called it a “failure of epic proportions”.    The normally conservative CARE, considered it a political charade.  The results were so bad that it motivated Secretary-General of the conference to declare “This is an outcome that makes nobody happy. My job was to make everyone equally unhappy,”    However, the more optimistic folks saw it as a new kind of tourism.  Environmental Conference Tourism!!  As one of the more productive consensuses was to hold more conferences on the environment, there is a great future here.

The final document signed by the “heads of states”, called The Future We Want, is as bland as bland can get, and in some cases outright offensive.  To make sure the document didn’t have any real bite to it, the U.S.  delegates were successful in having such radical  terms as unsustainable consumption and production removed.

In short, sustained economic growth, fueled by over consumption- two of the main elements that have created the global ecological crisis we are in- trumped social and environmental concerns and the well-being of future generations.  I’m having problems thinking of an adjective strong enough to denote the magnitude of the irresponsibility shown by the heads of the countries of the world. Criminal is too soft.  Let me know if any of you come up with a better one.

The section on mining (sorry, but mining has ruined my life!)  probably illustrates the tone of the document and the Steady-as-the-shipwreck-goes attitude of the document.   It’s submissive to business interests is just grossly offensive.  Here is the full section from the document:


227. We acknowledge that minerals and metals make a major contribution to the world economy and modern societies. We note that mining industries are important to all countries with mineral resources, in particular developing countries. We also note that mining offers the opportunity to catalyze broad-based economic development, reduce poverty and assist countries in meeting internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, when managed effectively and properly. We acknowledge that countries have the sovereign right to develop their mineral resources according to their national priorities, and responsibility regarding the exploitation of resources described in the Rio Principles. We further acknowledge that mining activities should maximize social and economic benefits as well as effectively address negative environmental and social impacts. In this regard, we recognize that governments need strong capacities to develop, manage, and regulate their mining industries in the interest of sustainable development.

 228. We recognize the importance of strong and effective legal and regulatory frameworks, policies and practices for the mining sector that deliver economic and social benefits and include effective safeguards that reduce social and environmental impacts as well as conserve biodiversity and ecosystems including during post mining closure. We call on governments and businesses to promote the continuous improvement of accountability and transparency, as well as the effectiveness of the relevant existing mechanisms to prevent the illicit financial flows from mining activities.

In summary, the world’s “heads of state” signing this jewel of a document, which future generations will howl over, agreed that,   a) mining is a sustainable economic activity; b) in spite of all the information to the contrary, it can eradicate poverty, and  c) all you need is “effective” regulatory controls to make it magically happen.

No mention of the gross human rights abuses and violence connected to mining, its unsustainable nature, or its horrendous and perpetual environmental impacts.  Nor, of course, it’s uncanny ability to create and deepen poverty in developing countries.

The other sections are no better.  It is clear on reading it that the same-old paradigm of development, not only triumphed, but demolished the sustainable paradigm that the world needs. In this light, the Conference was more about Sustainabable, than Sustainability.  Our kids and grandkids will, undoubtedly, judge the signatories as Earth Criminals.   It’s too bad we can’t jump on a time machine and magically transport a few folks from the future to try this bunch of low-lifers right now!

Anyway, the subtitle of this blog is “What did you expect?”  So, it’s not like this was a disappointment to me, I’m just reporting on what happened and didn’t happen.  I have to live everyday with the greed and selfishness that drive people and governments to rip open pristine cloud forests and kill all their inhabitants, pollute rivers for centuries, and tear apart families and communities for the sake of a few years’ worth of mining.  I know how powerful these interests are, and how difficult they and the development paradigm they are pushing are to defeat.  I know first-hand the power they have to evoke the worst in human nature, and then call the resistance to it terrorism. It is the same force that brought 19 heavily armed police to my home almost six years ago, and which disappears activists who stand in the way.  And, it is not going to change from the top-down.  Not as long as governments are beholden to business, and/or crazy with power.  Change must come from the bottom up.  From you and from me.

Times like this makes me recall the wise words of Brazilian activist-theologian Leonardo Boff

We cannot entrust our fate to political representatives who, in actual fact, do not represent the people, but Capital and its interests within the people. We need, ourselves, to undertake the task of being saviors. Each of us in our place, in our community, in every entity; in short, everyone should start doing something to give a different meaning to our presence on this planet. If we cannot change the world, we can change this piece of world that is each of us




By , June 7, 2012

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As most representatives of local governments, communities and organizations were taking part in a Intag-wide assembly yesterday debating, among other things, the disastrous consequences of the Lafarge limestone mine in Intag, and agreeing to take much more serious steps to force the company to turn over financial, labor, and environmental information about  their operation, functionaries of ENAMI, the state-owned mining company were fanning out throughout Intag carrying out a series of interviews, with such questions as:  is there government media coverage in the area;  what are the needs of your community, who do you trust as a  leaderwhat actors do you trust in and why, and twenty-six other questions directly related to mining!

 This is exactly the kind of information mining companies normally spend much time and money on to acquire, usually  in very discreet ways, so they know what to bribe communities and local governments with (roads, clinics, computers, etc,), what people know about mining, and which leaders or organizations needs to be neutralized.  This type of information is essential in order for the mining companies to design an effective plan to overwhelm the opposition.  In mining parlance, it’s called getting the “social license” to operate.  To the people on the ground, it translates to social upheaval, conflicts, violence, and permanent human rights violations.

It is extremely likely that the information will be distorted, and the result magically turn out to be what the government wants to portray about Intag to the world:  that Intag is a)  extremely poor, b) its people begging for jobs (even though there’s plenty of work), and c) that the overwhelming majority of Inteños want mining.

Another probable abuse of the interviews is that the government will be able to say that the Intag population was consulted about mining, thus complying with the Constitutional obligation of Previous Consultation, a very important right the communities have (but which is being severely weaked by the Correa government).

The message could hardly be clearer.  The government of Rafael Correa has decided, against all logic, to go ahead with the large-scale mining project in Intag.  As I mentioned on yesterday’s blog, the stupidity shown by the mining interests has been a constant in the struggle here in Intag, and it’s never failed to surprise me. This new development, however, sets a new standard.  I say this because, among other reasons, it seems bizarre, that on an election year, the government would want to create a new zone of conflict with local communities and governments by provoking Intag’s populace, which has defeated two transnational mining corporations.

I think that ENAMI’S actions also signals that the stupidity will not be much different from what we experienced with the private mining companies.    The strategies no doubt will be different, in that being a governmental corporation, they can count on the backing of the courts, the army, the police, the legislative, plus entities like the equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service, which makes it much easier to harass, intimidate, and criminalize the opposition.  But I think the government has underestimated the national and international support Intag can count on, and the level of anti-mining sentiment in the whole country.

The timing of ENAMI’s first incursion into Intag is interesting.  Interesting because, after the Intag Assembly yesterday, there hasn’t been such a strong anti-mining sentiment in the area in years.   At the Assembly, in which hundreds of people from all over Intag and Manduriacos participated, all seven Parish governments joined together, for the first time, to create a Union of Parish governments (Mancomunidad), to, as I mentioned before, force the Lafarge owners and government officials to turn over sensitive information about the company’s operations.  There was also unanimity in damming the company for the way it operates the mine, the treatment of Intag residents, the illegal contamination of the Quinde River, and the thrashing of the road, among several other issues.  One of the chief concerns was that after decades of pillaging Intag’s resources, the area has hardly seen any benefit from the operations.

Probably the most important resolution taken by the Assembly, in which several hundred people participated, was that if the company does not turn over the documents requested within 20 days, direct measures will be taken by the residents of Intag, led by the seven Parish Government presidents.  I t was the resolution that was the most loudly cheered and one I have no doubt at all will be implemented.

The message Lafarge should get out of this is that Intag folks and local governments are fed up with the way Lafarge has been operating in Intag, and fed up with mining in general. Thus, in large measure thanks to Lafarge, the government’s new mining plans will be that much harder to carry out.

Finally, there is a real possibility that ENAMI will not act beyond gathering information until after February 2013, when the country goes to the polls.  But this is dependent on smart people making smart decisions.  There is also an outside chance that with the recent steep decline in copper prices that the government will back off thinking about copper mines in Intag; or anywhere in the country.  Hope springs eternal.  In a logical world,  in a world not dominated by corruption and the quick-n-easy money mind set, it makes all the sense in the world.



Latest, June 4 2012

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By , June 5, 2012

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  • Asamblea in Vacas Galindo
  • Tomorrow is International Environmental Day.
  • CODELCO, JUNIN the Government, and the Paradigm Shift Disorder
  • Attack on NGO’s
  • and more…(coming)

Asamblea in Vacas Galindo & Tomorrow is International Environmental Day.

Tomorrow is not only International Environmental Day, it is also the date that the 7 presidents of the Parish governments here in Intag chose to tell LAFARGE, that they will be under much more scrutiny than ever before.  Just in case; Lafare is the world’s largest cement producer (France based) and has a limestone mine here in Intag.  In 2010, an Environmental Audit found many illegalities.

A few weeks ago, two workers subcontracted by the company died after a huge rock fell on them.  You could say that that was the rock that crushed everyone’s patience.  So, the Parish governments called for a regional Assembly to force Lafarge to comply with labor, environmental and human rights regulations which they have been, with the SUPPORT of WWF, flagrantly violating since they started pillaging our land, almost 10 years ago.  One of the issues will be to force the company to show where the almost 15 million dollars that they are supposed to have paid in taxes and royalties during the past just 3 years, for community development, has gone to.

CODELCO, JUNIN the Government, and the Paradigm Shift Disorder

In March of this year, the world’s mining companies got together in Toronto to show off their stuff and look for new places to pillage.  Many governments were also there shamelessly selling their country’s natural resources to some of the biggest crooks on the planet; including Ecuador.  Ecuador apparently gave a wonderful presentation which, among many other pearls, confirmed that the first project to be carried out by the government mining company (ENAMI) and Codelco will be Junin.  No date set was set for the start of the fun and games in Intag’s mountains and clouds.  The Correa government would have to be monumentally stupid to open this can of worms before elections, which are due for February 2013.  But we have been surprised over and over again by the stupidity that greed infuses in people and companies before, so don’t hold me to this.  Anyway, the people we speak to say they are ready to receive Enami, Codelco or whomever.  Regardless whether the right to resist is now a Constitutional guarantee.

Currently, there are a group of about 15 military in the Garcia Moreno Parish that are there to, supposedly, protect the people and the country from delinquency.  You might think I am making all this up, it is so monstrously ridiculous, but I assure you, I am not.  They impound motorcycles without all the papers in order, yet allow illegal mining right in front of their crooked noses (Codelco in Paraiso; Cecal and Lafarge in Selva Alegre; Agroindustrial in Corazón).  To add insult to injury, the government inaugurated an Environmental Ministry office in Garcia Moreno to, supposedly, control illegal logging.  This is the same Ministry that has told people here in Intag that it is essential to reforest, then bring in tens of thousands of trees from a nursery hundreds of kilometers away based in another ecosystem, and refuse to support the local community tree nurseries.  It is also the same clowns that are telling people here that mining is to go ahead no matter what (the exact Ecuadorian phrase:  la minería va porque va). That ‘no matter what’ entails a host of illegalities and unconstitutionalities, including violating the Constitutional right to a Good Life (Sumak Kawsayt), the right to Previous Consultation, the right to Resistance, the right to live in a culture of peace, and the right to live in a environment free of contamination, to mention some of the more obvious ones (more on the hypocrisy of the regime’s environmental policies here:      or here

 Attacks on organizations.

Part of the strategy of this, and other so-called progressive governments in the region, to push through their unconstitutional projects and accumulate more power, is to try to weaken or destroy any but state institutions, or civil society organizations that are friendly to their policies.  This means that governments like Correa’s has been targeting NGO’s and defaming them every chance it gets.  This includes not only activist grass-roots organizations, but well-respected human rights NGO, and powerful indigenous organizations, like CONAIE.  Correa and his cronies are also trying to neutralize the Organization of American State’s Interamerican Human Rights Commission, and Court (see link below).  Any organization that dares question the obviously autocratic measures governments take- especially those related to extractive projects.  A special hatred is saved for the non-governmental controlled press, which Correa himself calls corrupt in almost every public speech, without naming the paper or magazine, or TV station (he recently suggested to his contryfolks that one could “be militant by not buying the corrupt press”).  The strategy seems to be working.  One Parish president, ironically, one that DECOIN has helped the most acquire and protect primary forests, recently said that “NGO’S are making money from Intag, and are not doing anything”.  A Correa pup.   In this context, it is very unfortunate that, willingly or unwillingly, some allies are helping Correa spread the mistrust towards NGO’s.

Article in Spanish








By , January 13, 2012
Cloud Forest | Photo by Carlos Zorrilla

Photo by Carlos Zorrilla

Well, it was just a matter of time, and clearly within the plans of the Correa government. Codelco started its illegal exploration in the vicinity of the Paraiso community, located in the Intag-Manduriacos area as of yesterday, January 12th.

CODELCO is the third transnational mining company to attempt to start what would be a large-scale and open pit copper mining project in the area. As you are likely aware, Mitsubishi failed miserably in the 1990s, and Copper Mesa went bankrupt in the 2000s trying to do the same thing. What are the chances CODELCO will succeed where other transnational have failed? Not much.

Consider the following:
CODELCO was given the go-ahead to start exploration based on an amazingly flawed Environmental Impact Study. Local government authorities are challenging the legality of the EIA, as well as the flawed Constitutional-guaranteed process of Consultation. As expected, local communities are extremely pissed off by the way they were left out of the whole process. Given the violent past associated with mining in the area, there is no guarantee that CODELCO’s presence will not spark another cycle of conflicts and confrontations.

The project threatens pristine rivers and streams, plus the drinking water of two communities (El Paraiso and Magdalena). As well, mining threatens primary and secondary forests that are within two of the world’s most biologically diverse regions; the Tumbes-Chocó Magdalena, and the Andean Tropical Biological Hotspot. Of the world’s 34 Hotspots, the Andean Hotspot is by far the most diverse, and one of the most threatened ( Furthermore, the area is part of and Important Bird Area ( and exceptionally rich in orchid diversity (some are only found in this region).

CODELCO, the world’s largest copper producer, has lots of experience in mining in the Atacama desert; the world’s driest desert. Here’s what Wikipedia has on the Atacama: The average rainfall in the Chilean region of  is just 1 millimetre (0.04 in) per year. Some weather stations in the Atacama have never received rain. … the average rainfall in the mining area Codelco is now at is between 3,000 and 4,000 millimeters per year. See below for the significance of this fact.

The high rainfall mentioned above is a nightmare factor for mining companies, but especially for the environment and communities. High volume of water (both as rainfall and in acquifers) and mining just don’t mix; it increases astronomically the chances of generating what is known as Acid Mine Drainage, a chemical reaction between the air, water, heavy metals and the sulfur contained in the mineralized soil and subsoil that is present in the Intag and Manduriacos (as confirmed by Mitsubishi scientists in the 90s).

Acid Mine Drainage is a process that, once started, is virtually impossible to stop, and can keep contaminating rivers and streams for hundreds- and sometimes thousands- of years (for more information see:

CODELCO will lie about the impacts of exploration; alleging that its activities will cause little o no impacts. However, Mitsubishi contaminated the Junin river and tributaries with lead and arsenic as a consequence of the exploratory holes it drilled to find copper. The contamination continues to this day; seventeen years after the last hole was drilled.

IF this is not enough to dampen CODELCO’s success in Intag and Manduriacos, consider the following

Open-pit mining is illegal in Cotacachi County. It was outlawed in 2000 with the passing of the legally-binding Cotacachi Ecological County Ordinance.
The mining concession CODELCO is surrounded by four protected areas (the Los Cedros, and the Chontal Protected Forests, the Toisan Municipal Protected Area, and the Junin Community Reserve). It is very likely that it is within the Municipal Protected Area.
Not enough? How about that where they are looking for copper is extraordinarily rich in pre-Incan archeological sites 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.

Finally, CODELCO should know, that the people in Intag will not allow it. During the course of the last 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. Last we heard, the company was BROKE.

One of the tragedies of the insistence on developing this project is its social costs. Given the above reasons, it is very likely that CODELCO will also fail in Intag and Manduriacos. The question is, at what cost for the region and its communities??

In Chile, the company’s owners, the people of Chile, should also ask themselves: what is our company doing in this biologial and social jewel, where we are not wanted, and where mining can cause such environmental devastation????? And, IS IT WORTH IT?


Era solo una cuestión de tiempo y, claramente, estaba dentro de los planes del gobierno de Correa. CODELCO inició su exploración ilegal en las cercanías de la comunidad El Paraíso, ubicada en la zona de Intag-Manduriacos, el día de ayer, 12 de enero.

CODELCO (de Chile) es la tercera empresa minera transnacional que intenta iniciar lo que sería un proyecto minero para la extracción de cobre a gran escala y a cielo abierto en la zona. Como ustedes probablemente saben, Mitsubishi fracasó estrepitosamente en la década de 1990 y Copper Mesa fue a la quiebra en la primera década de este siglo tratando de hacer lo mismo. ¿Cuáles son las probabilidades de que CODELCO tenga éxito en aquello en lo que otras transnacionales han fracasado? No son muchas.

Consideremos lo siguiente:

A CODELCO se le dio el visto bueno para empezar la exploración con base en un Estudio de Impacto Ambiental (EIA) tremendamente deficiente. Las autoridades del gobierno local cuestionan la legalidad de este EIA, así como el defectuoso proceso de consulta que se encuentra garantizado por la Constitución. Como se esperaba, las comunidades locales están extremadamente molestas por la forma en que se les dejó fuera de todo este proceso. Al ponderar la historia de los violentos hechos relacionados con la minería en la zona, nada garantiza que la presencia de CODELCO no vaya a encender un nuevo ciclo de conflictos y confrontaciones.

El proyecto amenaza prístinas fuentes de agua, así como bosques primarios y secundarios ubicados dentro de dos de las regiones con mayor diversidad biológica del mundo: Tumbes-Chocó Magdalena y el Hotspot Biológico de los Andes Tropicales. De los 34 Hotspots del mundo, el Hotspot de los Andes es, por mucho, el más diverso y uno de los más amenazados ( Además, la zona está ubicada en un Área Importante para la Conservación de las Aves (AICA) ( y es excepcionalmente rica en su diversidad de orquídeas (algunas de ellas se encuentran solamente en esta región).

CODELCO, la productora más grande de cobre del mundo, tiene mucha experiencia en minería en el desierto de Atacama, el desierto más árido del mundo. Esto es lo que Wikipedia dice sobre Atacama: Las precipitaciones (lluvia) en esta región de Chile es, en promedio, de tan solo 1 milímetro de lluvia (0.04 pulgadas) por año. En varias estaciones meteorológicas del Atacama nunca ha habido lluvia ( Las precipitaciones en el área “minera” en que CODELCO se encuentra ahora son, en promedio, de entre 3.000 y 4.000 milímetros de lluvia por año. A continuación, entérese de las implicaciones de este hecho.

Este alto volumen de precipitación es una pesadilla para las compañías mineras, pero es especialmente preocupante para el medio ambiente y las comunidades. Un alto nivel de agua (tanto de lluvia como la de los acuíferos) y la minería simplemente no pueden mezclarse, pues esto incrementa de manera astronómica las probabilidades de generar lo que se conoce como Drenaje Ácido de Minas: una reacción química entre el aire, el agua, los metales pesados y el sulfuro que se encuentra en el suelo y el subsuelo mineralizados, los cuales están presentes en Intag y Manduriacos (tal como lo confirmaron los científicos de Mitsubishi en la década de 1990).

El Drenaje Ácido es un proceso que, una vez iniciado, es virtualmente imposible de frenar y puede continuar contaminando ríos y arroyos durante cientos –y hasta miles– de años (para mayor información, ver:

CODELCO mentirá acerca de los impactos de la exploración. Asegurará que sus actividades tendrán poco o ningún impacto. Sin embargo, Mitsubishi contaminó el río Junín y sus afluentes con plomo y arsénico como consecuencia de los hoyos exploratorios que perforaron para encontrar cobre. La contaminación se mantiene hasta el día de hoy, diecisiete años después de que el último hoyo fue perforado.

SI esto no es suficiente para poner en tela de duda el éxito de CODELCO en Intag y Manduriacos, considere lo siguiente­:
· La minería a cielo abierto es ilegal en el Cantón Cotacachi.. Fue prohibida en el año 2000 con la aprobación de la Ordenanza Municipal legalmente vinculante que declara a Cotacachi como Cantón Ecológico,
· La concesión minera de CODELCO está rodeada por cuatro áreas protegidas (los Bosques Protectores de los Cedros y el Chontal, la Zona Municipal Protegida de Toisán, y la Reserva Comunitaria de Junín). Además, es muy probable que se encuentre dentro de la Zona Municipal Protegida.
· ¿Aun no resulta suficiente? ¿Qué tal si se toma en cuenta que la zona en la cual están buscando cobre es un área extraordinariamente rica en vestigios arqueológicos preincásicos pertenecientes a una cultura de la cual todavía se conoce muy poco? Ah, dicho sea de paso que, para efectos prácticos, la minería es ilegal en sitios de estas características.
· Finalmente, CODELCO debería saber que la gente en Intag no lo permitirá. A lo largo de los últimos 17 años de confrontar a las transnacionales, la gente ha aprendido unas cuantas lecciones. Obligaron a Mitsubishi a marcharse en 1997 y luego a Copper Mesa en 2008. En el último caso, no solo tuvieron que abandonar Intag sino que, además, la compañía perdió sus concesiones, fue expulsada de la Bolsa de Valores de Toronto, y fue demandada en Canadá. Lo último que escuchamos fue que la compañía se declaró en QUIEBRA.

Una de las tragedias causadas por la insistencia en desarrollar este proyecto es su costo social. Dadas las razones mencionadas anteriormente, es muy probable que CODELCO fracase también en Intag y Manduriacos. La pregunta es ¿cuál será el costo de su fracaso para la región y sus comunidades?
En Chile, tanto los dueños de la empresa como el pueblo chileno también deberían preguntarse: ¿qué está haciendo nuestra empresa en esta joya biológica y social en donde no son bienvenidos, y en donde la minería puede causar tal devastación ambiental? Y entonces ¿VALE LA PENA?

Carlos Zorrilla


PINETREE and Copper Mesa Mining Corporation’s Latest Bullish Report

By , October 6, 2009

Dec 11 2009

Pinetree and Copper Mesa Mining Corporation’s Latest Bullish Report

If the quote: -You can never underestimate the intelligence of the American Public- is true, then it is even more true to hold that You can never overestimate the idiocy of the Canadian investment firms.

Yeah, I’m thinking of Pinetree’s latest latest brilliant move to take over Copper Mesa.

Who are these guys anyway, and why would they want to throw away more money into the bottomless pit that is Copper Mesa? (Pinetree had invested several millions from squeaky-clean Canadians in the past in this shipwreck)

Continue reading 'PINETREE and Copper Mesa Mining Corporation’s Latest Bullish Report'»



By , July 17, 2009


Apparently Nortec Ventures decided not to buy Copper Mesa’s Ecuadorian flotsam. But the company’s debris is still for sale.

Just what is up for grabs?

In spite of what Copper Mesa claims in page one of the latest Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the three months ending March 31, 2009, the company no longer has concessions in the Intag area. It lost its most “valuable” concessions- including the Junín mining concession, and Chaucha. The Junin concessions Copper Mesa permanently lost in November 2008 and January 2009. These concessions are in the hands of the government and, according to the new mining law, can only be exploited by a national mining company.



Article 24 and Copper Mesa’s -Nortec doomed venture

By , June 4, 2009

Another Bad Deal in the Works

In the midst of Copper Mesa and Nortec Venture’s deal, and not mentioned in the company’s latest creative reports, is the implication of the Ecuadorian government’s intention of taking over as many old mining concessions- including Copper Mesa’s ex JUNIN concessions, which the company lost in November of 2008
Continue reading 'Article 24 and Copper Mesa’s -Nortec doomed venture'»


Nineteen Reasons Why Nortec Ventures Should Stay Out of the Intag Region of Ecuador


Thursday, 23 April 2009
Canada’s Nortec Ventures Corp., a mining company based in Vancouver, announced this month its intention of buying Copper Mesa Mining Corporation’s Ecuadorian assets.

Three Intag residents recently filed a lawsuit against Copper Mesa (formerly Ascendant Copper), as well as the Toronto Stock Exchange, for their alleged responsibility of ongoing violence directed at local farmers and community leaders who oppose mining in the region.
Continue reading 'Nineteen Reasons Why Nortec Ventures Should Stay Out of the Intag Region of Ecuador'»


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