The artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) district of Portovelo-Zaruma is the oldest and largest of its kind in Ecuador. Gold mining has occurred in this region since the Incan conquest in the 15th century, scaled up by the Spanish crown in the 16th century and consolidated by the presence of South American Development Company (SADCO) from the beginning of the 20th century. Currently it is home to a diverse mining activity consisting of numerous, local artisanal and small-scale miners as well as a few foreign companies, especially ELIPE S.A, which is a sub-company of the Canadian Dynasty Metals Inc. The conflict is, first of all, due to a serious and long-standing environmental degradation of the area, especially about cyanide and mercury contamination of the Puyango River Basin, which eventually enters Peru further downstream. Moreover the conflict is about the deployment of power relations on the divergent claims to the gold deposits, that is about a local opposition towards the dominance of foreign mining companies in terms of mining concessions and production volume. Additionally, the nature and praxis of ASGM here as elsewhere produces outspread environmental consequences and enormous regulatory challenges for the Ecuadorian State. Local miners perceives the State to give unfair privileges to the largest, foreign companies, especially ELIPE S.A, which produce a resistance towards both control/regulation and foreign actors in the name of autonomy.