NOTE- FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN MORE DETAILS ABOUT CODELCO’S PRESENCE HERE, GO TO THIS SITE: http://codelcofueradeintag.blogspot.com/
Para los interesados en más detalles sobre la presencia de Codelco en Intag, ver http://codelcofueradeintag.blogspot.com/
Intag Folks go to Chile in Style (Spanish below)
Part of the agenda included talks on reviving the Junin project
This past 25th and 26th the president of Ecuador travelled with a bunch of officials to Chile to promote his new book, From a Banana Republic to the Non Republic. But before speaking at the book fair in Santiago, he went to Calama, high up in Chile’s Atacama Desert to visit Gaby, at a large-scale open pit copper mine belonging to Chile’s copper mining company, Codelco.
Correa didn’t travel alone to Gaby, he went with a host of official visitors, including four Intag residents who were invited the day before the trip; Shisela Morales, the President of Garcia Moreno Parish government, her vice president, plus the president of the Junín community and a representative of an agricultural organization in the Parish. Needless to say, Correa chose an agricultural organization that is pro-mining, in that it receives a sizable monthly stipend from a small gold mine in the area; shut-up money as sometimes it’s referred as. Thanks to Ecuadorian taxpayers, all four Intag residents, I am told, were able to fly in style, experiencing travelling in a presidential jet (or, more likely, one contracted specifically for the president’s trip).
The objective of the visit to Gaby, though not publicly stated but obvious as hell, was to try to convince the Intag folks of the benefits and feasibility of open-pit mining in Intag. It must have been interesting for everyone to see an open-pit mining in the world’s driest desert, where years can sometimes go by without any precipitation whatsoever. It must also have stretched everyone’s imagination to the breaking point to try to imagine such a mine in one of the world’s most biodiverse and rainy areas. I don’t think it’s possible unless you’ve seen what open pit mining can do in similar ecosystems such as ours, including the Ok Tedi copper-gold mine in Papua New Guinea, where it’s devastated 300,000 hectares of land and rivers (750,000 acres). Visit this site to see some Chilean copper mines in the Atacama Desert close to Gaby https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B9kKrl6DxURrUFJBazBIQ0t1WEE/edit
Though barely reported in the news (only in one news service(1), Correa went with other officials who were busy talking to Codelco about restarting the Junin project. It is very likely that Intag’s residents sat in on the negotiations. What tales they will tell if they decide to be open about their trip!! So, the trip confirms the government’s plans to go ahead with the plan reactivation of mining activities in Junin during the second semester of 2013.
Intag responded immediately to the latest strategy to buy political support to a destructive project. Eight of Intag’s largest organization signed a petition to Chile’s president informing him of the reasons of Intag’s opposition to mining and making sure that Codelco will not be welcomed in Intag. The letter, furthermore, ask the president to do all in his power to stop Codelco from reviving the nightmare here in Intag (Codelco is a state-owned company). I strongly urge you to check out the letter here: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B9kKrl6DxURrX01LOHNlTVFoaFE
During his two-day visit to Chile and on his return to Ecuador, Correa talked a lot about his desire to eliminate poverty with mining. Correa talks a lot period! But what Correa, an economist, is leaving out in his talks is that mining creates and deepens poverty in most areas of developing countries where it operates. Large-scale mining also generates an unbelievable number and types of social conflicts, tearing apart cultures, and causing perpetual environmental impacts as it does so.
Whether Colombia, Bolivia or Perú, as I recently was reminded in an international forum on mining and development I recently attended in Quito, large-scale mining creates social and environmental havoc, and impoverishes the people. To the point that several indigenous peoples in these countries, and Ecuador, have said they will resist any mining company entering their land.
The continental resistance to extractive industries by indigenous peoples has taken an interesting turn lately. This is especially so in Ecuador where seven indigenous peoples recently (last week) announced that they will not allow petroleum companies into their territories. This was a response to the Correa government announcement of the opening up of new petroleum lands for exploration. Almost all of the new area is within indigenous territories, and indigenous leaders denounce that it was opened up violating their right to be previously consulted. Opposition to mining is a logical next step.
Inteños viajan a Chile en lujo
Parte de la agenda incluyó diálogos para reactivar el proyecto Junin
El pasado 25 y 26 el presidente de Ecuador viajó a Chile con una numerosa comitiva para promover su nuevo libro, De la Banana Republic a la No República. Pero antes de hablar en la Feria del Libro de Santiago, fue a Calama, una ciudad en el desierto de Atacama de Chile para visitar a Gaby, a una gran mina de cobre a cielo abierto que pertenece a la compañía minera de cobre de Chile, Codelco.
Correa no viajó solo a Gaby, se fue con una comitiva oficial, que incluyó a cuatro habitantes de Intag que fueron invitados el día antes del viaje; Shisela Morales, el Presidente del gobierno Parroquia de García Moreno, su vicepresidente, además del presidente de la comunidad de Junín y un representante de una organización agrícola de la Parroquia. Obvio que Correa eligió una organización agrícola que está a favor de la minería, ya que recibe un mensual considerable de una mina pequeña de oro en la zona; un pago “calla la boca” como suelen decir. Gracias a los y las contribuyentes ecuatorianos, los cuatro habitantes de Intag, según me han dicho, volaron en puro lujo, experimentando viajar en un jet presidencial, o uno de la flota comercial especialmente contratado para el viaje.
El objetivo de la visita a Gaby, aunque no declarado públicamente pero más que obvio, fue tratar de convencer a los inteños de los beneficios y la viabilidad de la minería a cielo abierto en Intag. Debe haber sido interesante para todos para ver una minería a cielo abierto en el desierto más árido del mundo, donde años a veces pasan sin precipitación alguna. También estoy seguro que fue una labor extraordinaria intentar imaginarse una mina como la Gaby en una de las zonas con mayor biodiversidad y lluviosa del mundo; como es Intag. No creo que sea posible, a menos que hayan visto lo que la minería a cielo abierto puede hacer en ecosistemas similares al nuestro, incluyendo la mina de cobre y oro Ok Tedi en Papúa Nueva Guinea, donde ha devastado 300.000 hectáreas de tierra y ríos (750.000 acres ). Visite este sitio para ver algunas minas de cobre chilenas en el desierto de Atacama, cerca de Gaby https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B9kKrl6DxURrUFJBazBIQ0t1WEE/edit
Aunque apenas se informó en la prensa (sólo en servicio de noticias de una agencia (1), Correa fue con otros oficiales que se ocuparton de conversar con Codelco sobre el reinicio del proyecto Junín. Es muy probable que los inteños se sentaron en la mesa de negociaciones. ¿Qué cuentos contarán si deciden a ser abiertos sobre su viaje! Con lo cual queda confirmado que el gobierno mantiene las intenciones de reactivar el proyecto JUNIN durante el segundo semester del 2013.
Intag respondió de inmediato a esta última estrategia de comprar el apoyo político a este proyecto destructivo. Ocho de la organización mas grande de Intag, representando miles de inteños e inteñas, firmaron una petición al presidente de Chile, informándole de los motivos de oposición a la minería de Intag y para asegurarle de que Codelco no será bienvenida en Intag. La carta, además, solicita al presidente a hacer todo lo posible para detener que Codelco reviva la pesadilla aquí en Intag (Codelco es una empresa de propiedad estatal). Insto encarecidamente a revisar la carta (sólo en español en este momento) aquí: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B9kKrl6DxURrX01LOHNlTVFoaFE
Durante su visita de dos días a Chile y a su regreso a Ecuador, Correa habló mucho acerca de su deseo de eliminar la pobreza con la minería. Correa habla mucho, punto! Sin embargo lo que Correa, un economista, está dejando de mencionar en sus charlas es que la minería genera y profundiza la pobreza en la mayoría de las áreas de los países en desarrollo en los que opera. La gran minería también genera un increíble número y tipos de conflictos sociales, destrozando culturas, y causando impactos ambientales perpetuas a la vez.
Tanto en Colombia, Bolivia y Perú, como recientemente aprendí en un foro internacional sobre minería y desarrollo que hace poco asistí en Quito, la minería a gran escala ha creado caos social y ambiental, y empobrecido a la gente. Hasta el punto que varios pueblos indígenas en estos países, y el Ecuador, han dicho que se resistirá al ingreso de cualquier empresa minera a sus tierras.
La resistencia continental a las industrias extractivas por parte de pueblos indígenas ha dado un giro interesante últimamente. Esto es especialmente así en Ecuador, donde siete pueblos indígenas recientemente (la semana pasada) ha anunciado que no permitirá que las compañías petroleras en sus territorios. Esta fue una respuesta al anuncio del gobierno de Correa, la apertura de nuevas tierras para la exploración de petróleo. Casi la totalidad de la nueva área se encuentra dentro de los territorios indígenas, y los líderes indígenas denuncian que se abrió violar su derecho a ser consultados previamente. La oposición a la minería es el siguiente paso lógico.
Water and Biodiversity Forum.
Elections and more…
The forum in Chontal this year was by far the most successful Water and Bidoviversity Forum we have ever had. 236 participants from 36 communities took their time (as far away as 3 hours on foot and truck) to spend the whole day talking about the importance of protecting Intag’s water sources and forests and wildlife. The talks were followed by popular poetry readings, music and a theater show for the kids. And kids! They came from 11 different schools to participate in the art contest on the importance of water. You can see the photos by going to this link https://plus.google.com/
Elections and more….
Ecuador is preparing to hold elections on February 2013. Correa is the favorite right now, but his main opponent, economist Alberto Acosta, who is completely against large-scale mining has a good chance, IF the gov plays clean. That is a very big IF. Especially considering, if one is able to believe an opposition Assembly member who spoke at the Water and Biodiversity forum, that this year the gov was planning on spending $295 million on what he considered to be propaganda. That’s much higher than last year’s expenditure to “inform” the people of the government’s activities, and promoting itself all over the different medias.
Something that is troubling is the ever-concentrating of powers and influence in the Executive branch. Just like Venezuela. The Ecuadorian government is also following in the goosesteps of Chavez in giving more and more subsidies to the people, while democratic values and institutions are being battered daily. The latest (just from a couple of days ago) was the president trying to curb the Legisltative right to investigate other branches of government. Also, not too long ago, Mr Correa asked his Minsiters not to give interviews to the press he considers to be in opposition (calls that press corrupt). The list of initiatives by the gov to curb or displace other powers of government is depressingly long; and getting longer.
Unfortunately, most members of his party in the Legislative blindly support his directives and policies; regardless of their undemocratic aspects. It’s sad to say, but the model of the “strong-man”, Caudillo-type of governance, led by charismatic individuals who consider themselves to be the father of all the citizens and who think they can say or do no wrong, and who also considers themselves to be above the law and the Constitution, is consolidating itself in Latin America. Chavez is the perfect example; and Correa is doing his best to implement it here in Ecuador. Both governments are sustained by high commodity prices (petroleum) which allow them to buy their way into the hearts of many of the people, who also- true enough- lack basic necessities. As pointed out in other posts, many of these subsidies are also sustained by Chinese loans (in Venezuela to the the of 40 billion $)
Petroleum is running out in Ecuador, and instead of using the nation’s exceptional biological and cultural wealth to achieve a higher standard of living (not just accumulating material crap and having nice roads) Correa is going full speed ahead with large-scale mining to fund the generous social programs in the future- including a recently announced 60% increase of the poor people’s subsidy (from $30 to $50). A measure that will undoubtedly help his reelection chances in February. But not only in the future, mining is supplying Ecuador with millions in the present, given that the government is insisting on upfront cash before mines even open (the Chinese Ecuacorriente company will give Correa’s government 100 million before their large scale copper mine opens in the south). Something that is worth pointing out is the connection between mining and petroleum economies and authoritarian regimes pointed out in countless studies. These are just two more cases where reality on the ground confirm these kinds of studies.
One of the ironies of Ecuador’s mining policies is that is is in the process of reducing the taxes on mining companies, and trying to “streamline” licensing procedures. Sounds like World Bank doublespeak. Ironies because the Correa government proudly and loudly (more loud than proud) went about telling the world how it had such a cool mining law that would tax the hell out of mining companies; much more so than any other country in the world. Two things they are specifically aiming for: delay the implementation of the windfall tax till teh companies recoup their investment (which can be more than a decade), reduce or fix the royalty to no more than 8%. This comes at a time when most mining economies are levying new taxes on export of minerals, raising royalties (royalty for gold in Venezuela is 13%), and so forth. According to mining companies working in Mongolia, 71% of revenues created by mining will stay in that country. Ecuador is happy with 51%; but with the new changes proposed that is all very relative.
In five more days, 2190 days will be the number of days and nights that have slipped by since 19 police raided my home with a search and arrest warrant based on completely made up charges filed by someone paid by Ascendant Copper to say that I robbed and physically assaulted her. 2190 days is how many days two governments have let gone by without any sort of investigation into the illegalities involved in my particular case, and which included a police planting a gun and drugs in my home, and several police intimidating my family. In order for all this to have happened, a district attorneys and a judge had to look the other way while they allowed unbelievable amount of illegal procedures to take place, permit my human rights to be grossly violated, and put my life at serious risk. 2145 days is the number of days those same two governments have let go by without investigating the paramilitary attack on Junin, and the possible connection between the false security firm and the military that made it all happen. No one has bothered to investigate all the illegal weapons used in the paramilitary attack, nor what was Honor and Laurel, an international security firm, doing in Ecuador orchestrating it all. 2130 days is also the time that has elapse since the attack on the communities of Barcelona and Cerro Pelado, by an outfit run by a ex-military official, and which farmers from Intag were trained on paramilitary skills, and where tear gas canisters were used against women and children. This is the same country where, if you dare oppose a mining project with on the ground measures such a blocking a road, you can be labelled a saboteur and a terrorist and put away for years.
A while ago I mentioned that we have been hearing disturbing rumors. Those rumors were about the possibility of someone in government taking actions against anti-mining activists here in Intag and other parts of the country. Unfortunately, since I wrote this on this blog a while back, we’ve heard this same story from other different sources- not connected to each other. In all, it’s four sources, all linked to officials, that say the same thing, and have the same individuals on this very dirty black list. DECOIN is on the list of organizations (the only one in Intag), and several of our members are part of that short list.
I am publishing this at this time in case something happens. I am not thinking of violent means used against us, but much more subtle measures to try to neutralize those that dare oppose mining development here and elsewhere in Ecuador. At the same time, I fervently hope the rumors turn out to be just that, and no more.
Rains are here again!!
Water and Biodiversity Forum
Ecuador’s Infinite Cynicism
Español: Lo siento, no tengo mucho tiempo para traducir, favor usen google translate.
RAINS ARE HERE AGAIN. And not a moment too soon. We had a hellishly long and dry dry season, with hundreds of hectares of mainly shrub and terciary forests burned close to agricultural areas. One of the worst years I recall. The rains were nearly a month late. The drought conditions were general in all of Ecuador. But now it seems the normal rainy season is here again.
Water and Biodiversity Forum. This coming Saturday we will be celebrating the Sixth Water and Biodiversiy Forum. Each year for the past six we’ve organized this public forum to discuss water and biodiversity issues in Intag. Most of the years PRODECI, a local NGO has helped DECOIN fund the event; this year, besides PRODECI, we welcome the support of the Corporación Talleres del Gran Valle, in the Manduriacos regions. This year, we will be in Chontal instead of our usual place of gathering, Pucará- in order to expose more people to the issues affecting our rivers, streams, drinking water and biodiversity. the large hydroelectric dam being built in the area will be one of the issues discussed, as well as water and health, mining and water.
The last time we held the event, about 160 people came, even though it was a rainy morning and it was held in the middle of the week. This year we are expecting a little bit more and the event includes a small theather group, music and prizes awarded to schools for the best poster on water.
ECUADOR’S INFINITE CYNICISM : ECUADOR AT THE UN, 1 OCTOBER 2012
Excerpts of the speech by Ecuador’s delegate to the UN General Assembly, taking place at the UN Headquarters, in New York. October 1, 2012
Quoted parts in bold; rest of article underlined,, my comments are indented
“My country sees it as fundamental that international organizations support and promote all human rights,”
In the meantime, indigenous and campesinos have been charged with terrorism, sabotage and other criminal offenses for protesting against mining and petroleum projects.
“This profound commitment with humanity forces us to encourage tolerance, respect and support for every person,” he said.
One of President Correa’s most infamous remarks that reflects his government’s tolerance, uttered 5 years ago in reference to wide scale protests against mining and petroleum activities and water issues, is this gem: “… the ecologists are extortionists, it is not the communities who protest, the romantic environmentalists and the infantile leftists who want to destabilize the government” (.. ..)”whoever opposes development is a terrorist”. (he really did say that!)
In fact, the Correa government’s intolerance is legendary. He constantly insults the private press, and has even ordered his Ministers and other high officials not to give interviews to independent newspapers, which he considers corrupt. Not too long ago Correa won a lawsuit against a journalist for the publication of an article that he said slandered him (the journalist sought, and received, asylum in the U.S.). Not content with just going for the journalist, he also sued – and won- a court case against the owner of the Universo newspaper, one of Ecuador’s largest print newspaper, for printing the article. He also took to court two individuals who were chosen to be in an officially sponsored auditing committee looking into illegal business deals between the Correa government and Correa’s elder brother. The two individual ran into trouble when they announced that they found evidence of the existence of hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal contracts between the Correa government and his brother. And just a few days ago, Vistazo, one of Ecuador-s most prestigious magazine was fined $80,000.00 for publishing an opinion piece on last year’s government- motivated referendum. The opinion piece suggested people vote no on the referendum questions. Pro-government newspapers were not fined for similarly suggesting that people vote yes on the same referendum questions.
“Since people are at the centre of the Government’s Citizen Revolution programme, we have decidedly supported people that are persecuted for the political ideals, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or that have a well-founded fear of integrity in their home countries.”
See above persecution of indigenous and campesinos leaders for daring to oppose extractive projects. Ecuador’s milking of Assange for all its political worth is uniquely disgusting, taking into account the constant assault on freedom of the press and expression at home.
The Ecuadorian official stressed that in addition to human rights, countries should recognize the rights of nature and focus on preserving and regenerating its vital cycles, structure and evolutionary processes.
“By recognizing [nature’s] rights, we close the integral cycle that these have with human rights,” he said, calling for a universal declaration on the rights of nature to ensure its protection,” he said.
The rights of nature is another political cow for the government that is as ludicrous as ludicrous can get once you find out what is really going on in the country.
For example, the Ecuadorian government is aggressively promoting large-scale mining development in pristine forests areas rich in water resources and endangered species of animals. Given the in-perpetuity nature of the environmental impacts of large-scale mining, it should be easy to see how the policy will unquestionably violate the rights of nature. In areas where the forests are home to native people it will also violate their rights. Add to this the fact that the government of the citizens revolution, so concerned about human and nature rights, will soon try to open up for petroleum exploration millions of hectares of pristine forested areas in the southern Amazonian region. Most of the forests are inhabited by native Shuar and Achcuar, as well millions of animals and plant species; including dozens of endangered ones.
Ecuador is one of the main promoters at an international level of sustainable measures for the environment, Mr. Albuja said, adding that the Government has put in place various measures to protect species and ecosystems in danger of extinction, reduce carbon emissions, and combat climate change.
This monumental b.s. is being followed up by a International Forum on nature rights in Quito next week hosted by the Ecuadorian government. One does wonder how deep and far can a government’s cynicism go.
September 15, update
- Dry, dry season
- No mining news is good news?
- Very disturbing rumors
- Political climate check and… welcome to scandalville
- Get Ready, the Chinese are coming!
Dry, dry season.
One of the driest seasons on record in most of Ecuador. So far eight provinces have declared States of Emergencies - including our Imbabura- due to the hundreds of fires affecting cities as well as rural areas. Quito and surroundings has been specially affected. All fires have been set intentionally.
Intag is also undergoing a severe dry season, and fires set to prepare land to plant corn and renew pastures are now affecting native forests. All Parish governments are reporting problems with the fires (yet none are doing squat about it). Unfortunately, the Ministry of the Environment is doing nothing whatsoever about the situation here- not even investing in talks or radio program. DECOIN is financing the airing of 10 radio clips on the issue. We are hoping more organizations and local governments also do their share (by the way, we are about the only organization financing the operation of the radio–PLEASE donate if you want the radio to continue)
No mining news is good news?
Happily we have no hard news to report regarding the mining madness. However, an organization out of Guayaquil, Sambito S.A. Has been showing up in a lot of places lately asking to be allowed to do botanical studies; including within the Junin community reserve- and very close to the mining site. They say they have an agreement with the Minister of the Environment to do foresty studies This same outfit does environmental impacts studies for mining companies, however. So far, they have been turned back on three occasions by communities, but they keep insisting.
Very disturbing rumors.
(check back in a day or two)
Political climate check and welcome to scandalville
New elections in February and it’s hard to keep track of the scandals associated to the government and to the election process. The latest one has to do with hundreds of thousands of falsified signatures affecting the legality of several (all opposition) parties. Two of those opposition parties; the MPD and Pachacutic were already accepted as legitimate by the elections authorities, then later were told that tens of thousands of the their signatures were false, and unless they get the required signatures by the 24th of this month, that they will not be able to participate in the elections. Both parties have been participating in elections for decades. Main opposition leaders are accusing the Election Commission of being manipulated by the Executive. Correa’s party did not scape the scandal, however, and over 120,000 falsified signatures detected by the pro-government election Commission, but since the government party had plenty of extra signatures, it will not effect their ability to participate in the election. One of the many sub-scandals related to this is that there is a campaign (written papers) warning people not to give their signature to any party, which obviously will affect the opposition party trying to get new signatures. Alberto Acosta, a close ex-ally of Correa and co-founder of Correa’s Allianz Pais party, is now the leading opposition candidate, and just about all of the parties on the left have united, as never before in Ecuadorian history, to support a single candidate against Correa. He is opposed to large-scale mining and actually has a very good chance of wining- if the government keeps from playing too dirty (and THAT, dear readers is a very big IF)
The Chucky Seven… The above is just one of the numerous (and growing) scandals lately affecting this government. One of the more troublesome scandal has to do with the 40 million dollar decision in favor of Correa suppossedly given to the judge in finished form.
Correa sued the owners of Ecuador’s largest newspaper for, El Universo, for frankly, I forget exactly what- there have been so many lawsuits against journalists and newspapers by this government. Ok, I remember now, it was for libel; apparently one of the articles their paper published contained something nasty about Correa (can you imagine a journalist saying something nasty about a polititian????). The author of the article is exiled in Miami*, as he was also sued and faced several years in jail for writing it (If you are wondering whether this is the same government that recently gave Julian Assange asylum, you would be 100% right)
To make a very long and interesting story short, the owners of the paper sued the judge that ruled against them an in Correa’s favor, and had indisputable evidence that someone outside the court system, using a computer with the nickname Chucky Seven, had written the full court decision. There have been allegations that it was Correa’s defense lawyer who drew up the decision for the presiding judge. The judge overseeing the case against this partial judge threw it out for no real reason. I think in the end he the new judge claimed that there was nothing illegal in a judge using a pre-written decision!!!! The defense lawyers said they’ll take it to international tribunals.
**Miami is also the city where one of Correa’s closest collaborator and current head of the Central Bank (and o happens to be Corra’s cousin) recently bought a home. Correa himself has an apartment in Brussels. Yes, folks, this is the government of the People’s Revolution, who despise the imperialistic north (North except for China, that is).
Get Ready the Chinese are Coming!!
The government of Ecuador seems to be enthralled by the Chinese these days. They recently declared that they are ready for the Chinese to help them with infrastructure projects. This is besides the petroleum and mining companies that are already installed in the country (recently, a new Chinese company expressed interest in acquiring another mining company in Zamora Chinchipe). The Chinese are also funding and working on the two biggest hydroelectric projects, and have shown interest in helping Ecuador with a very large petrochemical plant on the coast (12 billion $ worth). The announcement of the infrastructure interest came not too long after the largest bridge in Northern China collapsed 9 months after its inauguration. The announcement also coincided, to the day, of denouncements made public by Ecuadorian employees working for the two hydroelectric projects of poor treatment (abuse for some)!!! As I’ve mentioned before, the Chinese have money up their ying-yang, and need copper and petroleum (and regional presence). Ecuador needs money, since most international lending institutions don’t want to lend them money for past payment defaults. Currently Ecuador owes China about 8 billion $, which they are paying back mostly with petroleum (at 7% interest)
Mining Paradise: The Police and Army visit Junin- on the same day!! La policía y ejército visitan a Junin- en el mismo día!!
Mining Paradise: The police and military harass Junin. In the same day!
Within hours of each other, first a squad of 20 anti-narcotics police take to hills above Junin supposedly based on a denunciation of a plantation of coca. Hours later- and I am not making this up- a squad of 8 military personnel, all equally heavily armed- tried to establish a camp in the Junin community.
The coca connection was not the only farce of the day, however. Someone in the laughable group, perhaps the district attorney, said that there was talk of FARC roaming our hills and mountains (Farc is the rebel guerrilla group in Colombia). Any pretext to see how effective the community responds to an outside threat, to identify the leaders, and see how the community defense structure operates in real life.
This all took place on Friday, 24th of August. Which may turn out to be another watershed date in the long struggle against mining and short-sightedness in Intag and Ecuador.
But first, the police. They came with a district attorney which they try to camouflage as one of their machine-toting members. The land they were visiting happens to be an ex Copper Mesa property that the campesino owner decided he wanted to continue living there in view that the company did nothing with the land. Apparently, the company is suing the ex-owner to get him evicted. So, the police was supposed to search the land, find coca plants, arrest the perpetrator, and so forth.
Well, what happened was that Junin and nearby communities didn’t like it that a bunch of heavily armed police were trampling around their community forest reserve without their permission. According to reports, some of the police were shouldering backpacks, as if maybe they intended to stay a while. The community folks followed the cops up very steep hills and demanded an explanation. When the coca story didn’t convince anyone, they got a little mad and demanded the cops and their big guns and district attorney get the hell out of there.
Which they did.
Calm returned to the hills, valleys and communities of Intag, Ecuador. For about 4 hours.
The next ridiculousness came about when 8 military personnel, escorted by another police car, tried to go directly to the Junin community. Again, without asking permission.
Now we always are grateful when these clowns make the work of the communities easier by making dumbass mistakes such as these. And sure enough, this time a bigger crowd of about 60 campesinos and campesinas, mostly Junin residents, but also from Chalguyacu alto and Chalguyacu Bajo, came out to “welcome” the military. This they did similarly of their welcoming the paramilitaries in December of 2006, with sticks and machetes. At one point, according to an eye witness, one of the military took off the safety on his machine gun and started to aim it at one of the leaders of the crowd. That didn’t go over too well, as you can imagine, and several of the women yelled, if you’ve come to kill us, then kill us, but you are not going to Junin (yelled at fully armed military!!). The standoff lasted about 45 minutes, and well, you probably know the outcome. As with the paramilitaries in 2006, the military turned around and left for parts unknown.
What were they doing you trying to go to Junin might ask? The story, from the very mouth of the official leading the soldiers, was that they were investigating the possible presence of military personnel in the Junin area, possibly FARC, and that they were there to protect the community!! That possible presence of military, were, of course, the 20 anti-narcotics police.
I wonder what upholders of the public peace and order the government will send next to investigate the investigators.
That was this week. Last week the government was embarrassed big time when a group of 20 (twenty) employees of the National Mining Company visited a few towns to “socialize” the work the National Mining Company – ENAMI- does and talk a little bit (very little bit) about the Llurimagua mining project; formerly known as JUNIN mining project. Oh, they also came all the way from Quito to enlighten Intag residents on the results of a survey carried out by ENAMI in June (which I blogged about back then). Well, in every town the socialization went from bad to worse. It was worse in Junin where the people didn’t even let the functionaries speak and told them they were not wanted, nor wanted to be seen in their communities ever again.
In Peñaherrera it was barely better, but the result was the same, they were told to leave before they could say much at all. I was told they left in a sort of a hurry. One memorable phrase as they were leaving from a woman: WHAT PART OF NO IS IT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND??
Garcia Moreno went a little better for them, they were able to give reign to their bull to about 90 people. However, at the end, everyone saw how little they said and how much they were holding back. People were not pleased when they were unable or unwilling to answer some rather important questions (such as what is the Codelco connection with Enami). End result: people distrusted ENAMI and the employees, many thought they were being lied to, and that basically, they were no different than the Canadians.
The meeting in Apuela was a total fiasco for the Enami employees. Hardly anyone came out to hear them on a market day, a day where hundreds of people visit Apuela. It was embarrassing how bad they lied to the few of us who were there. One of the things that pissed off a few people was that they did not mention CODELCO, the Chilean company who was given the green light by Correa and company to start digging around Junin’s pristine cloud forests after the second semester of 2013. Enami is just there for the show and to pave the way for Codelco (the world’s largest copper producer). The presentation was so bad that I felt bad for the Emanies. No one took the Pepsis and potato chips that they had brought for snacks.
And this is how the most recent episodes of the new season of Mining in Paradise unfolded here in Intag in the past couple of weeks.
Do stay tuned, because all of this soldering and phony police presence has to lead up to something. Correa is too much in debt to the Chinese and too much in need of money to keep afloat his populist programs. Which is kind of weird because the Canadian companies recently pressured the President to sharply curtailed the windfall taxes on mineral extraction (the details will soon be known). What this means, is less money for the government. So, go figure. I suppose it has much to do with the government’s insistence of receiving cash before mines open in advanced payment of royalties and other taxes. Or just plain greed by the mining companies, who do not like, and are not used to, paying more than the minimum they can get away with.
FINALLY, (Tis late for me),, today was the day of the wonderful INTAG LIBRE anti-mining song, dance, and theather festival in the town of Magdalena Bajo. Hundreds of folks from Quito, Otavalo, Cotacahi, and many many from Intag, showed up, first to hear a forum on the mining hassles afflicting the country, but then for music and fun. As soon as I get some photos and more reports, I hope to share (i was only there for the first part of the event)
Traducción con ayuda? de Google (con las disculpas del caso)
Minando el Paraíso: La policía y los militares acosan a Junín. En el mismo día!
En espacio de pocas horas, una patrulla de 20 policías antinarcóticos ingresaron abruptamente al bosque de Junín, supuestamente basado en una denuncia de una plantación de coca. Horas más tarde, y créanme que no lo estoy inventando, un escuadrón de ocho militares, todos igualmente fuertemente armados, trataron de establecer un campamento en la comunidad de Junín.
La conexión con la coca no fue la única farsa del día, sin embargo. Alguien del grupo, tal vez el fiscal distrital, habló de la presencia de las FARC en nuestros valles y montañas (la FARC es el grupo guerrillero rebelde de Colombia). Cualquier pretexto para comprobar cómo responde la comunidad a una amenaza externa, identificar a los líderes, y ver cómo la estructura de defensa de la comunidad opera en la vida real.
Todo esto tuvo lugar el viernes 24 de agosto. Lo que puede llegar a ser otra fecha hito en la larga lucha contra la minería y la falta de visión en Intag y Ecuador.
Pero empecemos por la policía. Vinieron con un fiscal distrital que trataron de camuflar como policía. La propiedad que visitaron resultó ser de la Copper Mesa, y que el ex-propietario campesino decidió seguir viviendo allí, en vista que la empresa no había hecho nada con la tierra. Al parecer, la compañía está demandando al ex-propietario, y para que sea desalojado. Por lo tanto, la policía estaba en búsqueda de las plantas de coca, y deberían haber hallado, y arrestado al ex propietario.
Bueno, lo que pasó fue que a Junín y las comunidades cercanas no les cayó muy bien que un grupo de policías fuertemente armados se metan a su reserva comunitaria sin permiso. Según los informes, algunos de los policías llevaron al hombro mochilas, como si tal vez tenían la intención de quedarse un buen rato. La gente de la comunidad les siguió a los policías por empinadas laderas y exigieron una explicación. Cuando el cuento de la coca no convenció a nadie, los comunero les exigieron que se larguen del sitio con armas y todo.
Lo cual fue lo que hicieron.
La calma volvió a las montañas, valles y comunidades de Intag, Ecuador. Por casi 4 horas.
La ridiculez siguiente se produjo cuando ocho militares, escoltado por otro vehículo policial, intentaron ir directamente a la comunidad de Junín. Una vez más, sin pedir permiso.
Ahora, estamos siempre agradecidos cuando estos payasos hacen el trabajo de las comunidades más fácil cometiendo errores bobos como éstos. Y, efectivamente, esta vez a una multitud más grande, de unos 60 campesinos y campesinas, residentes en su mayoría no solo de Junín, sino también de Chalguyacu Alto y Bajo Chalguyacu, salió a “darles la bienvenida” a los militares. Lo hicieron de forma similar cuando le dieron la bienvenida a los paramilitares en diciembre de 2006; esto es, con palos y machetes. En un momento dado, según un testigo presencial, uno de los militares le quitó el seguro de su metralleta y comenzó a apuntar a uno de los líderes de la multitud. Eso no cayó muy bien, como se pueden imaginar, y varias de las mujeres gritaron: si han venido a matarnos, mátenos ya!, pero no van a Junín (retaron a militares armados hasta los dientes!) . El enfrentamiento duró unos 45 minutos, y probablemente ya sepan el resultado. Al igual que con los paramilitares en el 2006, los militares se dieron la vuelta y salieron rumbo desconocido.
¿Se preguntarán: qué estaban haciendo tratando de ir a Junín? Según me informaron, el cuento, de la boca misma del oficial que lideraba a los soldados, era que ellos estaban investigando la posible presencia de personal militar en la zona de Junín, posiblemente la FARC, y que ellos estaban allí para proteger a la comunidad! Esa posible presencia de militares, era, por supuesto, los 20 la policía antinarcóticos!
Me pregunto ¿qué defensores de la paz pública y el orden el gobierno enviará para investigar a los investigadores???
Eso fue al final de la presente semana. Al inicio de esa misma semana el gobierno se vio avergonzado cuando un grupo de 20 (veinte) empleados de la Empresa Nacional de Minería visitó algunas ciudades de “socializar” la labor de la ENAMI y hablar un poco (muy poquito) sobre el proyecto minero Llurimagua, anteriormente conocido como proyecto minero Junín. Ah, también vinieron desde Quito a iluminar los residentes Intag sobre los resultados de una encuesta llevada a cabo por ellos mismos en junio (lo cual mencioné en esta página por aquel entonces). Pues bien, en todos los pueblos de la socialización les fue de mal en peor. En Junín les fue peor, donde la gente ni siquiera de dejaron hablar y se les dijo que no eran bienvenidos, y que no querían verlos en su comunidad de nuevo.
En Peñaherrera fue apenas mejor, pero el resultado fue el mismo, se les dijo que se fuera casi al inicio de la charla. Me dijeron que se tuvieron que largar en una especie de prisa. Una mujer campesina des gritó cuando ya se iban:: ¿QUÉ PARTE DEL NO ES LA QUE NO ENTIENDEN?
En García Moreno les fue un poco mejor: fueron capaces de dar rienda a su toro a unas 90 personas. Sin embargo, al final, todo el mundo vio lo poco que dice y lo que estaban deteniendo. A la gente le cayó un poco mal cuando no pudieron o no quisieron responder a algunas preguntas más importantes (como lo es la conexión con Codelco Enami). Resultado final: la gente desconfiaba de ENAMI y los empleados, muchos pensaron que estaban siendo engañados, y que, básicamente, no eran diferentes de los canadienses.
La reunión en Apuela fue un fiasco total para los empleados de Enami. Casi nadie salió a escucharlos en un día de mercado, un día en el que cientos de personas visitan Apuela. Fue vergonzoso como mintieron a los pocos que estuvimos allí. Una de las cosas que le molestó a algunas personas fue que no mencionaron a CODELCO, la empresa chilena que Correa le dio luz verde para comenzar a explotar cobre en los bosques nublados primarios de Junín, a partir del segundo semestre del 2013. Enami solo viene para hacer show y para allanar el camino para Codelco (la mayor productora mundial de cobre). La presentación fue tan mala que me sentí mal por los Emanies. Nadie se tomó los Pepsis y papas fritas que habían traído para refrigerio.
Y así es como culmina el más reciente episodio de la nueva temporada de nuestra serie: Minando el Paraíso.
Estén atentos, porque todo esta presencia policial y de soldados tiene que conducir a algo. Correa se encuentra demasiado endeudado con los chinos y necesitado de dinero para mantener a flote sus programas populistas. Lo cual es raro si te pones a analizarlo un poco porque las empresas canadienses recientemente le presionaron a al Presidente para que drásticamente reduzca los impuestos a las ganancias extraordinarias provenientes de la minería (los detalles se darán a conocer pronto). Lo que significa, menos dinero para el gobierno. Así que, vaya usted a saber! Supongo que tiene mucho que ver con la insistencia del gobierno de recibir dinero en efectivo anticipado de regalías y otros impuestos antes de que abran las minas . ¿O sólo será la codicia de las empresas mineras, que no les gustan pagar más del mínimo?
Por último, (ya es tarde), hoy fue el día del maravilloso Foro/Festival INTAG LIBRE EN contra la minería, con canto, danza y el festival de Teatro, en la encantadora ciudad de Magdalena Bajo. Cientos de personas de Quito, Otavalo, Cotacachi, y muchos, muchos de Intag, vinieron, primero para participar de un foro sobre los problemas que afectan a la minería del país, y después para disfrutar de la música y la diversión. Tan pronto como me envíen algunas fotos y más informes, compartiré en esta página (yo estuve sólo en la primera parte del evento)
I WAS WRONG ABOUT CORREA – Español a contiuación
I admit it, I thought he would wait until after the elections- due to take place in Februrary- before sending in the mining thugs to try to impose the government’s mining agenda on Intag’s communities. Yet, as I recall, I think I mentioned the fact that when it comes to mining, very little would surprise me, and that stupidity frequently prevails.
So, this past Wednesday, at the Parish government of Garcia Moreno, where the Japanese Agency for Interactional Cooperation found Junin’s copper, delegates from the national mining company- ENAMI- had a strong run in with Shisela Morales, the president of Garcia Moreno (equivalent of a Municipal mayor). Ms Morales was accompanied by a few elected officials.
The mining officials insist on socializing the mining project directly with the communities. The Garcia Moreno government- which is autonomous- insisted that before it attempts it, ENAMI should turn over essential information about the mining concession and its plans to start advanced exploratory activities during the second semester of 2013. They were also, again, warned about the possibility of its presence provoking social unrest and conflicts. Arrogance won the day, and ENAMI went about visiting communities to set up the unwelcomed meetings in spite of the local government’s wishes.
To underline the discontent the communities feel about the possible return of the mining nightmare, and the indignation with this kind of arrogance, the ENAMI officials were stopped close to Junin and told them they were not wanted, and warned not to return.
CODELCO, the world’s largest copper producer, would actually do all the exploratory work, since ENAMI hardly knows up from down when it comes to mining.
One of the first meetings ENAMI set up was in Apuela, for this Sunday (19th). They hope that in this Parish government, which is about 3 hours away from the mining site and will not be directly impacted, they will be heartly cheered. The same day, ENAMI hopes to meet in the Parish government of Peñaherrera, with the same intended results. I think, they are in for a unpleasant surprise, however. Though there are a few people who are vociferously pro-mining in these two Parish governents, most of the populace reject the divisions, violence and general social chaos that mining brought to Intag with the Canadians.
To help allay some of this fear, ENAMI representatives, who are travelling with a very prestigious publicity firm, is assuring everyone that with them, things will be different: no violence, no paramilitaries, no shooting at defenseless farmers, no judicial set ups, and LOTS OF MONEY for roads, clinics, new high schools, and blablablabla, AD NAUSEUM.
Few people, however, know that there is a very dark history of when governments become directly dependent on rents coming from large scale mining. I am talking about disappearances, extra-judicial killings, criminalization of all opposition, invented lawsuits, and the use of army to quell resistance. In the infamous case of the Bouganville copper mine, in order to keep the money flowing to the coffers of the Papua New Guinea government, the government itself hired paramilitaries to quell the protest against the mining project that ended up with the murder of tens of thousands of islanders. The mine was shut down, and the conflict provoked a low-level civil war, which is still ongoing 30 years later. Papua New Guinea is, by no means, the not place where these kinds of abuses have taken place. On the Indonesian side of island, there have been numerous human rights violations associated with the partly government-owned Grasberg gold and copper mine. The list is rather long. But in summary, when governments own or partly own very productive mines and are heavily dependent on rents from these mines f to pay for its army, police, and other “essential” government services, you can expect gross human rights abuses.
The meeting for Junin is set for this coming Monday (20th). At the time of this writing, communities are meeting to determine how to best confront the new threat.
Me equivoqué sbore CORREA
Lo acepto, pensé que esperaría hasta después de las elecciones, que se celebrarán en feberero, antes de enviar los gansters mineros para intentar de imponer la agenda del gobierno en las comunidades de Intag. Sin embargo, si no recuerdo mal, creo que mencioné el hecho de que cuando se trata de la minería, muy poco me sorprendería, y que con frecuencia, la estupidez se impone.
Así, el pasado miércoles, en el gobierno de la parroquia de García Moreno, donde la Agencia Japonesa para la Cooperación Interaccional encontró el cobre de Junín, los delegados de la empresa nacional minera-ENAMI- sostuvieron una fuerte confrontación con Shisela Morales, la presidenta electa de García Moreno (equivalente a un alcalde de un Municipal). La Sra Morales estaba acompañada de algunos funcionarios electos.
Los funcionarios mineros insisten en socializar el proyecto minero directamente con las comunidades. El gobierno de García Moreno, el cual es autónomo, insistió en que antes de que lo intenta, ENAMI debería entregar información acerca de la concesión minera y los planes de iniciar actividades de exploración avanzados en el segundo semestre del 2013. También fueron, de nuevo, advirtidos sobre la posibilidad de que su presencia provoque conflictos sociales. La arrogancia ganó el día, y ENAMI anduvo visitando las comunidades para establecer las inoportunas reuniones, a pesar de los deseos del gobierno local.
Para subrayar el descontento que las comunidades sienten sobre el posible regreso de la pesadilla de la minería y la indignación con este tipo de arrogancia, los funcionarios de ENAMI fueron detuvidos cerca de Junín y se les advirtió que no eran deseados, y se le advirtió que no regresaran.
CODELCO, la mayor productora mundial de cobre, en realidad haría todo el trabajo exploratorio, ya que ENAMI no sabe donde esta parada en cuanto a la minería.
Una de las primeras reuniones ENAMI fue organizada para Apuela, para este domingo (19). Tienen la esperanza de que en este gobierno parroquial, que se ecuentra aproximadamente a 3 horas de distancia de la mina y no se verá afectado directamente, le vitoreán . El mismo día, ENAMI espera reunirse en el Gobierno Parroquial de Peñaherrera, con los mismos resultados previstos. Creo que les espera una sorpresa desagradable, sin embargo. Aunque hay algunas personas que están a favor de la minería en estos dos gobiernos Parroquiales, la mayoría de la población rechaza las divisiones, la violencia y el caos social general que la minería trajo a Intag con los canadienses.
Para ayudar a aliviar algo de este temor, los representantes de ENAMI, que viajan con una firma de publicidad de gran prestigio, garantizan a todos que con ellos, las cosas serán diferentes: no habrá violencia, ni paramilitares, ni disparos contra campesinos indefensos, nada de montajes judiciales, y mucho dinero para carreteras, clínicas, nuevas escuelas secundarias y blablablabla, hasta la saciedad.
Pocas personas, sin embargo, conocen de la oscura historia de cuando los gobiernos directamente dependen de las rentas provenientes de la explotación minera a gran escala. Estoy hablando de desapariciones, ejecuciones extrajudiciales, criminalización de toda oposición, demandas inventadas, y el uso del ejército para sofocar la resistencia. En el infame caso de la mina de cobre de Bouganville, con el fin de mantener el flujo de dinero a las arcas del gobierno de Papúa Nueva Guinea, el propio gobierno contrató paramilitares para reprimir la protesta contra el proyecto minero, el cual terminó con el asesinato de decenas de miles de isleños. La mina fue cerrada, y el conflicto provocó una guerra civil de baja intensidad, que 30 años más tarde, odavía está en curso. Papua Nueva Guinea no es, de ninguna manera, el único lugar donde este tipo de abusos han ocurrido. En la parte indonesia de la isla, se han producido numerosos violaciónes de derechos humanos relacionadas con la gran mina de oro y cobre Grasberg, en la cual es sociol gobierno. La lista es bastante larga. Pero, en resumen, cuando los gobiernos son dueños, o socios de minas muy productivas y dependen en gran medida de las rentas a cubrir gastos del ejército, la policía y otros servicios “basicos”, se puede esperar graves abusos de derechos humanos.
La reunión de Junín está programado para el lunes que viene (20 ª). En el momento de escribir estas líneas, las comunidades se reúnen para determinar cómo mejor enfrentar la nueva amenaza.
MINING PARADISE 2012: CODELCO HOPES TO START EXPLORING JUNIN IN 2013
This last Thursday (July 26), the governments of Ecuador and Chile signed a bilateral agreement to strengthen their political, cultural and economic ties. In the economic sphere mining took center stage. I am reproducing the part on mining below, and as you can see, the government of Ecuador would like Codelco to start exploration in the Junin concessions (now called Llurimagua), in the second semester of 2013 (4-5 months after Ecuador’s next elections).
Another aspect of this agreement that stands out is Codelco’s willingness to distort the truth so openly. I am referring to the part in the agreement where it says that Codelco started the process of obtaining the environmental license, and the socialization of the project. The truth is that so far, there has not been any socialization by Codelco within the Llurimagua concession. Another worrisome aspect is them mentioning that they hope to start the advanced phase of exploration, which is much more impacting that the initial exploration (heavier equipment, deeper holes, more drilling). By Ecuadorian law, before advance exploration can take place, the companies have to conclude the initial phase of exploration. And for both, you need comprehensive Environmental Impact Studies.
One can surmise a number of things from this very short extract:
a) Truthfulness is not an issue for either Codelco nor the Ecua government.
b) Ecuador’s government will not demand that Codelco does any kind of legitimate Environmental Impact Assessment. The mid 2013 start date for advanced exploration does not leave enough time to do a proper EIA in such a biodiverse and wet forest area, containing so many species of animals facing extinction.
c) It looks like either the government will exonerate Codelco from doing a initial Environmental Impact Assessment, or they will accept the very poor initial EIA done for another mining site (Paraiso). This EIA was done by another concession owner, it was done for a concession about 10% the size of the new concession; encompassed different altitudes, had considerably less micro watersheds, different types of forests, and different social and cultural settings than the Llurimagua concession. For example, the Paraiso concession hardly had any primary cloud forests, and only had within in, 5 micro watersheds. By contrast, the Llurimagua concession- if as it appears on an official map- encompasses two of ex- Ascendant Copper concessions, which would make it nearly 10,000 hectares; has dozens, and perhaps over one hundred micro, small and medium watersheds, and has more communities within in and adjacent to it than the Paraiso concession. This is an area also rich in pre-Incan archeology sites. Keep in mind that the Paraiso EIA was so badly done, that it was an embarrassment. And this the document that Codelco will probably use in order to forgo doing the EIA for initial exploratory work.
d) Conclusion: The Ecuadorian government will not be looking out for the well being of Intag’s communities or the environment, nor too worried about enforcing it’s own progressive Constitution, or basic laws protecting human rights.
August 4th is the date set for the State owned mining company to meet with some communities in the Junin area. So, keep tuned
The extract follows
(The parts agreed to) in the field of mining, to further strengthen the cooperation and exchange of knowledge and experience. This, under the Interagency Cooperation Agreement on Mining Matters, signed on September 2008 and its amending protocol signed on August 2010
They agreed to further the facilitation of the Cooperation Agreement for Mineral Exploration agreed between the then Ministry of Mines and Petroleum of Ecuador and CODELCO, signed on June 5, 2009 which was ratified, as stated in the Convention itself, with the National Mining Company (ENAMI EP), with the signing of the Agreement for Mineral Exploration by CODELCO ENAMI EP on November 28, 2011 for the duration of four years, renewable in equal and successive periods if the parties so decide .
In the framework of said agreements, CODELCO has undertaken prospecting and exploratory activities in approximately 20 prospects, and of which only one was selected (the Llurimagua prospect) for advanced exploration, and four for followup exploration.
During 2012 the process to obtain the Environmental License and socialization with the authorities and communities began, so as to proceed with exploration work with drilling in the Llurimagua prospect, approximately, during the second semester of 2013.
the complete Agreement is available here> http://www.scribd.com/doc/
CHILE: WHY CODELCO WILL ALSO FAIL IN INTAG in 2012, 2013, 2014,,,,,,
I posted the blog below in August of 2011 when Codelco was lying its way into the hearts of the residents of Paraiso, a community not too far away from Junin. Back then I predicted that the Paraiso mining concession, of only 800 hectares, would prove to be too small for the company, and that their real interests were in Junin . On my previous blog, I reproduce the Bloomberg article published just this last friday, which reports that, lo and behold!, Codelco is after JUNIN concession, after all. It wasn’t too far back that Codelco publicly denied they were interested in Junin. The talking heads interviewed in the article lie shamelessly about the potential worth of the JUNIN deposit, saying or implying it is one of the world’s largest copper deposits. It is not.
After years of exploring, the Japanese INFERRED, the possible existence of 2.26 million tons of copper. This makes it a small to medium copper project, if the deposit is proven at some point in time. There are no less than 20 other sites around the world with larger copper deposits, including some in Mongolia, Panama, Philippines, Chile, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, and the US (Alaska). The information is hype. The consequences of people believing it can be devastating for Intag’s communities, and for one of the world’s most biodiverse forests.
2.26 million tons of copper, if it even exists, would take about 10 to 15 years to exploit, and would give the world only about 35 days worth of copper (the world consumed about 22 million tons last year). China consumes four times this amount just every year.
The news article also goes on to say president Correa will either do away with the windfall tax or drastically reduce it in order to appease the world’s mining companies, which had a problem with it. Keep in mind that the windfall tax is being applied to the Petroleum sector, leaving substantial amount of cash for Ecuador. The hypocrisy is hard to overlook. A little while ago Mr. Correa and his followers in power were trumpeting to the world how Ecuador had the best mining law, in that it forced most of the mining profits to stay in the country. Yet, this new measure comes at a time when the rich, poor and middle class in Ecuador are being hit with onerous taxes, including a tax on primary and secondary native forests, which is driving deforestation, as people either sell the land to farmers and ranchers, or turn the most valuable trees into boards to pay for the new taxes.
I am including a slightly updated version of the August 12th post below explaing why Codelco Will Also Fail in Intag.
Posted on | augustus 12, 2011
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.
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).
The copper in Junin, according to the Japanese who explored it, is very deep; deeper than most depostis. What this means is that the impacts will be much greater than in most other mining projects. The deeper the mine, the more they have to dig out to reach the ore body, and the more overburden- or subsoil laced with heavy metals, have to be moved around and disposed of. Plus they have to deal with millions of more gallons of underground water; a nightmare for the companies and the environment. For a relatively small mine that the Japanese did a preliminary Environmental Impact Study, of only 450,000 tons- or one fifth the 2.26 million tons they eventually found- the Study’s scientists said 600 hectares (1500 acres) would be needed just to store just the waste rock from the small mine. Imagine the impacts if they were to prove the existence of the 2.26 million tons. As it is, the Study predicted “massive deforestation, impacts to dozens of mammals and other species thereatened with extinction, drying up of our climate, contaminated rivers with heavy metals, and relocation of four communities; to mention just some of the impacts identified in the Study.
Not enough? How about that where they are looking for copper is extraordinarily rich in pre-Incan arqueological 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 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 the Chilean government (Codelco’s part owner) 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.
This Bloomberg news just published confirms that CODELCO, jointly with the state-owned mining company, will try to exploit the copper at Junin. While we were expecting the news, to have it confirmed puts it in another scale of certainty.
Seeing as how the communities were not been consulted over the possibility of starting up mining again in these hills and valleys, and therefore violating fundamental Constitutional rights, there cannot but be confrontations with the local communities. The communities have a Constitutional right to resist, and I have little doubt that they will use it.
Anyway, the Bloomberg news has some impressive bits of misinformation, such as claiming that Ascendant Copper explored the area. Some memorable exaggerations on Ecuador’s mining potential by the head of Ecuador’s chamber of mining rounds up the mediocre news release, which, needless to say, did not try to get the position of people here on the ground….