The Mirador Open Pit Copper Mine will mine 60,000 tons of rock per day. When 50,000 tons of ore are mined and crushed per day, 49,700 tons of solid rock waste is created each day, all of it contaminated by heavy metals. In the case of the Mirador Mine more than 49,700 tons of rock waste per day will be produced for 19 years, the expected life of this mine.
ECSA has the rights to mine the area for 30 years to be extended after the first 30 years for another 30 years. ECSA have the rights to exploit any minerals that they may find. They will extract gold and silver as secondary minerals. There may be molybdenum , and the Shuar say there is Uranium. Uranium is not uncommon in such rock formations.
Extracting 50.000 tons per day the mine will use approximately 106 million liters of water each day of operation. A further 180,000 liters would be required for the concentrator and administrative areas.
The Mirador Mine open pit will be 1.25 kilometers deep and about 4 kilometers in diameter, thus catching a massive amount of water from the sources of the river Wawayme. This in turn will lead to a changed hydrology in the area.
The rainfall in the Cordillera can be up to 3,000 mm per year, ie 3 tons per square meter.
The water in the pit will be toxic, heavily acidified and contaminated by heavy metals made soluble from the rocks owing to the acidification from the sulfur bearing rocks which have been opened to air and water.
The Mirador will have to process hundreds of millions of tons of water EVERY DAY. Pollution and poisoning of the waterways is certain, as declared in the Environmental Impact Assesment Report.
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- Carlos Zorrilla (August 2011). “Preguntas y respuestas sobre la minería en El Ecuador“