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Latest Action in Ecuador

The alleged victims, and some as petitioners, allege that the State is responsible for the violation of their rights due to the lack of protection and control of a mining project which would have caused the irreversible deterioration of the environment and effects on the decent life of eight populated centres and ten communities in the area3.

​Approved by the Commission on 9 March 2022.

Accepted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights based in Costa Rica.

English translation of our case
Evaluation of the Design and Construction of the Tailings Dams for the Mirador Mine, Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador
Steve Emerman’s Report
Evaluation of the Design and Construction of the Tailings Dams for the Mirador Mine, Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador
Legal Update from March 2019

David Dene and Julio Prieto, experts recognized by the Harmony with Nature program of the United Nations, presented the request based on a rigorous technical report prepared by Dr. Steven H. Emerman, who is an internationally recognized expert on tailings dams and their structural integrity.

Latest Action in Ecuador

The alleged victims, and some as petitioners, allege that the State is responsible for the violation of their rights due to the lack of protection and control of a mining project which would have caused the irreversible deterioration of the environment and effects on the decent life of eight populated centres and ten communities in the area3.

​Approved by the Commission on 9 March 2022.

Accepted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights based in Costa Rica.

English translation of our case
Evaluation of the Design and Construction of the Tailings Dams for the Mirador Mine, Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador
Steve Emerman’s Report
Evaluation of the Design and Construction of the Tailings Dams for the Mirador Mine, Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador
Legal Update from March 2019

David Dene and Julio Prieto, experts recognized by the Harmony with Nature program of the United Nations, presented the request based on a rigorous technical report prepared by Dr. Steven H. Emerman, who is an internationally recognized expert on tailings dams and their structural integrity.

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English Mirador
Mine Claim

SUMMARY: We request a constitutional precautionary measure in order to protect the rights of nature that are seriously threatened by an imminent ecological catastrophe of unprecedented proportions in Ecuador. Everything indicates that the collapse of the dams planned to contain more than 390 million cubic meters of mine tailings in the Cóndor-Mirador project is inevitable. As we will explain in a technical and documented way in this demand, this is a certain future fact, inevitable and with extreme consequences. The way in which the company ECSA is building dams is an act that threatens in a serious and imminent manner to violate the rights of nature. We are not discussing whether or not the company has the permits in order (as did all the dams that have failed in Canada, Brazil or Israel). We are demanding that, independently of those permits, the construction and operation of the dams by ECSA represents a threat of irreversible damage to the rights of nature. This is the construction of two dams (one of which would be the highest in the world), contravening the technical recommendations, in the middle of an area with high rainfall and on a geological fault. Floods and earthquakes will happen with absolute certainty, so experts say that this is the recipe for a disaster.
In application of the principles of precaution and prevention, we cannot simply wait for this to happen because the consequences of this event are irreversible for the rivers that will receive the uncontrollable discharge of tens of millions of tons of (toxic) mining tailings – which will cause the rupture of life cycles, structure and functions that they fulfil (Article 71 CRE). Restoration or compensation in kind would be impossible. In addition, a few months ago a new:
1. The Report has been prepared by Dr. Steven H. Emerman, who has a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Mathematics from the Ohio State University, a Master’s Degree (MA) in Geophysics from Princeton University, and is a Doctor ( Ph.D.) in Geophysics from Cornell University. He has 31 years of experience in the teaching of hydrology and geophysics and 66 publications reviewed by experts in these areas. He also owns Malach Consulting, a firm specialized in assessing environmental impacts for mining companies, governmental and non-governmental agencies.
species of frog that lives in the area that would be affected (probably until extinction) by this catastrophe. The extinction of a species always implies an irremediable interruption of its functions in nature. Fortunately, we have time to avoid this disaster and prevent the violation of the rights enshrined in Article 71 of the Constitution. We must prevent the inevitable consequences of building dams predestined to fail in a biodiversity hot-spot such as the Cordillera del Cóndor.
For this purpose, the case will proceed as follows. First, the antecedents that give rise to the present precautionary measure will be described, particularly around the origin of the situation with which the rights of nature are put at risk. Second, the rights that could be seriously and imminently violated due to the inevitable collapse of the mining tailings dams will be identified. Third, it will be indicated how the present demand complies with all the forms foreseen in the Constitution and in the Law of Jurisdictional Guarantees and Constitutional Control. Fourth, active legitimation will be justified to present this autonomous precautionary measure. Fifth, it will be established what is the precise claim of the request for precautionary measures, that is, in short, the immediate suspension of the construction of the mining tailings of the Cóndor-Mirador project to ensure the use of best practices and the best technology available, that allows us to ensure that the probability of failure of the dams of the Mirador mining project has been eliminated.

Steve Emerman Mirador Report

Submitted to the
Ecuadorian Constitutional Court

LIGHTNING SUMMARY: An earlier design of the tailings dam for the Mirador mine, Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador, included a height of 63 meters, an outer embankment slope of 1V:2H, centerline construction, and the ability to withstand the Probable Maximum Flood. A stability analysis determined that the tailings and the foundation would liquefy during the earthquake that is expected to occur during the life of the project. The tailings dam currently under construction includes an outer embankment slope of 1V:1H, upstream construction (more susceptible to failure due to both seismic liquefaction and overtopping), the ability to withstand only a 500-year flood, and a projected height of 260 meters (the tallest ever constructed). Failure due to earthquakes, overtopping or internal erosion is inevitable. An immediate moratorium on the further construction of the Mirador mine is recommended, followed by the convening of an independent panel of international experts for the evaluation of the Mirador tailings management facilities.