President Correa and his Government are implementing an environmentally destructive mining project in the Cordillera Del Condor, in South Eastern Ecuador, compromising the head waters of the River Amazon.
In March 2012 the broadest possible mining rights were granted to the Chinese state owned company CRCC-TONGGUAN, who own and manage THE MIRADOR COPPER AND GOLD MINE, which is the central focus of controversy.
CRCC-TONGGUAN has secured permission to exploit all minerals found in their concessions. MIRADOR could be just the tip of the iceberg, as it is widely suspected that there is uranium in the Cordillera Del Condor (“The Mountain Range of the Condor”).
The MIRADOR Mine lies in south eastern Ecuador’s “copper belt”, which extends over an area measuring 20 x 80 kilometers and which is considered by the mining industry to be one of the last undeveloped copper districts left in the world .
The area in dispute is recognized as one of the richest and most bio-diverse “hotspots” on the planet. The vegetation is unique in all the world. The region’s protection is crucial for the natural water cycles of the Amazon.
The MIRADOR MINE will clear-cut at least 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of forest land, permanently destroying all habitats and vegetation. The mine will poison the waterways of the Cordillera Del Condor which are a significant source for the whole Amazon River system.
The MIRADOR Mine is vigorously opposed by the inhabitants of the area. They are joined in their survival struggle by a coalition of ecologists, environmentalists, cultural-survival advocates, university faculty, and others who say that the damage to the area due to mining will be massive and irreversible.
The Mirador is an open pit mine. It will be 1.25 kilometers deep and 4 kilometers in diameter
The Mirador Mine is projected to mine and pulverize 50,000 tons of rock every day. After the copper is removed, the remains – 49,700 tons of solid rock waste – will be left behind in the jungle every day, all of it contaminated by heavy metals.
This production of rock waste will continue for 19 years. The rock waste will leach acid into the ecosystem forever.
Every day, 100 million litres of water will be used to process the rock. The water will be contaminated with heavy metals, acidification, and dangerous chemicals, all made soluble through acidification from the sulfur-bearing rocks exposed to air and water. This water will come from the sources of the river Wawayme and will change the hydrology of an area with 227 water sources.
The CRCC-TONGGUAN company was obligated to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment. The most optimistic grade for the “risk factor” of this mine is 4. The most hazardous risk factor in such assessments is 5. This is an extremely destructive endeavor.
Ecuador was the first country in the World to incorporate The Rights of Nature into it’s Constitution. National Indigenous Organizations represented by CONAIE , Human Rights organizations and environmentalists point out that This project is being undertaken in violation of key provisions of the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008, which provides the basis for all laws in Ecuador, in particular in respect of the Rights of Nature and Articles 71 and 86 and 9 of that Constitution.
Both the “OIT Convention 169” of the Ecuadorian Constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights of Indigenous People, require full consultation with indigenous people on all matters involving major threats to their way of life and to the pristine environment of their lands. The government of Ecuador has ignored these provisions. As a result, people will be displaced Ecological bio-diversity, human lives and livelihoods will be destroyed.