The Cupriferous Mining Project today known as Llurimagua is located in the western foothills of the Western Mountain Range of the Andes in the province of Imbabura and in the region known as Intag. Its forests belong to the most important biodiversity hotspot in the world, tropical andes. The site where copper was discovered is very rich in water, and covered by cloud primary and secondary forest which house tens of endangered species, some reported in these forests and anywhere else on the planet. Communities and organizations have released a fight against 4 mining companies since 1995 in defense of their constitutional rights, and to protect their sources of water, and their native forests and biodiversity, which give life to the entire region [1 ] .
The struggle of the Intag Valley has motivated the organization and deployment of various initiatives of women, youth, producers (organic coffee, agroforestry systems, network of small hydroelectric plants, ecotourism, as well as a strong process of organization and territorial mobilization that seeks to defend the territory and propose other ways of living it more just and sustainable . Throughout these years, more than one hundred social and environmental scientific research has been generated in the area , alternative reports have been promoted , as well as established radios, newspapers and various local and virtual information channels. International collaboration networks have been created that have allowed, for example, that the fight will reach Toronto Stock Exchange . And the struggle continues under the various Ecuadorian governments that see on large-scale mining the continuation of a backward oil economy.
A conflict with History
In 1991-1998 Bishimetals reaches Intag in 1991 product of an agreement of Japanese-Ecuadorian governments to evaluate the mining potential of the sector within the concession today known as Llurimagua. Bishimals at the time, was a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation, and the entire project was funded by the Japanese Government, through its International Development Cooperation Agency (JICA). It is important to point out the latter since the studies were not financed by mining companies, but with public funds from the Japanese, and is the only EIA that really shows the impacts of a large-scale mining project in a site like Intag.
In the year 1996, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Metal Mining Agency of Japan (MMAJ) publish the report of their exploration activities, including a section where It warns drastic environmental and social damage for a small copper mine. These include the relocation of hundreds of families from four communities, massive deforestation, which will lead to local climate drying (the term used in the study was desertification), until impact on endangered species and the Cotacachi-Cayapas National Park. As well as the pollution of rivers and broken with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals, increased crime and impacts to pre-champic archaeological vestiges.
These impacts were based on A mine of only 450,000 tons of pure copper in a deposit of 72 million tons of Mena. The following year the presence of 2.26 million tons of copper was inferred in a deposit of 318 million tons. In 2018, Codelco estimated that it could have 17 million tons of copper in a deposit of 3,846 million tons of Mena.
In 1997, the comuneros around the project They bring together and form a committee and decide to request the departure of the Junín Forest's company. Neither the government nor the Japanese respond and the comuneros burned the camp. The company leaves Intag without having concluded the investigations, not without before the government prosecuting 3 comuneros due to sabotage and terrorism. In 2018 the government gave up judgment.
In 2004, the presence of Canadian company Ascendant Copper is verified and a division and conflict phase begins. By seeing a strong opposition, progressively the tactics become more violent, including death threats to certain leaders. In 2005, the company's camp is burned on a low chalguayacu by comuneros of the entire Intag area.
Although the comuneros were denounced to justice, the judge absolves them alleging in his opinion: "The Ecuadorian Criminal Code does not foresee the criminal sanction to a community," (...) "The Assemblymen have been the ones who made the decision to set fire Facilities of the company Ascendant Copper S.A. In defense of the environment and its community, by the mining works that has undertaken in the area, before this decision Polybio Pérez, who directed the same and the other accused, is obvious that they were before The tax decision of the comuneros and acted then moved by a force majeure (Community resolution) ".
In October 2006 based on a false denunciation was mounted A judicial assembly against Carlos Zorrilla, from the Organization Intend Decoin, whose end was to arrest him and imprison him to silence him and his organization. He tried failed, but included the invasion of his home with 19 policemen strongly armed with arrest and raid-raid order. It did not result in the company because Carlos was able to evade capture, escaping at the last moment, hiding in the forest. In 2018, a court in Quito sentenced that the complaint was malicious. The police, it is worth mentioning, planted a weapon, ammunition and drugs in their home, which led to another capture order by illegal holding of weapon (this chapter can be seen in the feature film under rich floors).
In November 2006 Ascendant Copper hires Quito security companies and train several Intag inhabitants in paramilitary tactics. They try to enter the mining concession via Cerro Pelado, but the communities block the entrance despite the fact that the employees of the company used tear pumps and trained dogs.
in December In 2006, the company hires another security company which quickly hires former soldiers, puts their costume of the company and gives them weapons that were eventually identified as of illegal production. On December 2, they try to get into the concession again by High Chalguayacu. A confrontation and shooting are carried out using illegal weapons against unarmed commuvers, but eventually the police are withdrawn. A few days later approximately 100 Intag inhabitants, meet in Junín and, knowing where the paramilitaries are falling from surprise and arrest 57 of them. Eventually they are delivered to the police with illegal weapons, but the government did nothing (this chapter can be seen in several documentaries, including, after haze, under rich soils, among others. None of the paramilitaries, or their bosses were sanctioned, despite using unregistered illegal weapons).
In 2011, Ecuador and Chile sign Agreement for Codelco to develop certain selected mining projects without tender. ENAMA EP (Ecuador's National Mineral Company) is the Holder of the Minera Llurimagua Concession.
In 2012 the presence of the national company Minera Emilica and Codelco trying to socialize The mining project now as the support of the Chilean government. Codelco does not see her in socializations, who gives the face is the ENAMA who is also the holder of the concession. Most communities reject the attempted socialization to such an extent that the government and the company is forced to use much more aggressive tactics .
In 2013, companies fail to enter the communities to socialize the project and generate support, so the President Rafael Publicly Correa, and on several occasions, discreditiates Leaders of the opposition in Intag, to such an international amnesty intervened to guarantee the integrity of one of the leaders .
In April 2014, when an Enami truck tried to access the mining concession is blocked by comuneros by the high chalguyco sector. In the confrontation someone breaks the windshield of the truck and the employees of La Enami, even though it was the first time they entered the area, identify Javier Ramírez as responsible and his brother Víctor Hugo Ramírez. Javier, it is worth mentioning, at that time he was the president of the Junín community and one of the best-known antiminery activists. However, at the time of conflict Javier was at home being attended by a Belgian doctor and was unable to be mobilized due to a severe swelling of the knee. The arrest was made arbitrarily without the arrest warrant and was held when he returned with another companion of the community of a meeting convened by the Minister of the Interior at that time, José Serrano. Javier is transported several hours in a patrolman, the reason for the arrest is not informed. Just when he reached jail, the capture order is shown. It is imprisoned for 10 months without judgment, so eventually be sentenced to 12 months, sentence that it was reduced to 10 for good behavior. (This chapter and the following can be seen in several documentaries on YouTube (Javier, and Intag; Harassment to Intag; Intag helplessness ...)
in May 2014 the government Send 389 troops from elite police and military groups that entered violently to the mining concession. Codelco installs his camp at the site called the viewpoint where the community took his tourists within the community reserve that the Decoin. Reservation acquired by the Community A Ends 1990. Also the forest where advanced exploration eventually developed is part of the community reserve, however, at that time nobody had scriptures .
The police, it is worth mentioning, occupied not only the sector of Junín and High Chalguayac, but the entire area of Intag for months violating fundamental rights as the right to transit freely. In Junín they remained at least 6 months. According to inhabitants, at that time He took advantage of the company to "socialize" the project to the inhabitants, but they went from home at home sheltered by police or a brazen intimidation
The DeCoin estimates that between 2015 and 2018, the company started its exploration, drilling at least 90 wells in the primary forest of the community. At the beginning of 2019 Codelco reported the possible presence of 17 million tons of copper in a deposit of 3,860 million tons of MENA. However, the figure handled by the Government is 982 m / tons of MENA .
at the end of 2018 CODELCO requested the expansion of the exploration area to Another 700 hectares within the mining concession. Until 2021, the impact study has not been approved and contains very serious omissions and errors.
Inspection of the Ombudsaler and uncestors of the Ombudsman.
In August 2018, the General Comptroller of the State inspected the mining project, and March 2019, published its report , in which it reported more than 20 irregularities and violations by state entities: a) To the Enhouse-Codelco Convention, b) Environmental Impact Study (lack of basic information, for example, c) poor socialization, d) lack of consultation, e) lack of environmental license, which is why The Comptroller reported that there were enough arguments to cancel the mining concession and put a high on the project.
In April 2019, the Ombudsman's Office published its resolution on the abuses Associated with the presence of miners in Intag, detailing numerous violations of human rights and nature ZA .
Since 2019, Codelco, who has financed almost 100% of the exploration, withdraws its equipment (in November 2018) and to date (10-2021) Do not restart activities, waiting for it to be approved in new environmental impact study to expand the exploration area. Another obstacle is non-compliance with the bilateral agreement, where it indicates that a new company should be constituted to continue developing the mining project. That breach led, in 2021, to Codelco to take the Ecuador to the ICC, International Tribunal based on Paris.
With the support of the DeCoin, civil society raised precautionary measures based on the violation of the rights of nature (probable extinction of two species of endemic frogs to the mining area). He won in the first instance (Sept 2020), but was lost in the appeal for insurmountable failures from the first instance judge (2021) .
The DeCoin denounces that companies (ENAMI and CODELCO, but Codelco more than everything) continue to be presence in the communities surrounding the project and have hired approximately 50 workers between Junín and Cerro Pelado and continue to offer dádivas to the communities instead of obtaining their support . Meanwhile, in 2021 there were several clashes in the Barcelona sector and Cerro Peeled at times that Codelco tried to enter to socialize the mining project, or to give things.
Since DeCoin stands out that based on environmental impacts predicted by Japanese experts in its 1996 preliminary environmental impacts for a small copper mine, it could become one of the most devastating the history of mining. This opinion is based on mining projects in similar sites; Since highly sensitive factors coincide as high rainfall, the super plenty of frequetic water, the presence of primary forests that house tens of endangered species, very rough topography, seismic risks, the content of the deposit that will generate Drainage mining acid, copper mixed with heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and cadmium.