Podocarpus National Park and mining, Ecuador


In the mid 1980s the Ecuadorian government granted various mining concessions within the Podocarpus National Park, despite its illegality. A company named CUMBINAMA S.A. obtained one of these concessions. It obtained the prospection and exploitation permits in 1985. This company worked at Podocarpus until 1990. It then sold its concession to Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ). This park contains one of the few remainders of Podocarpus sp woods in the country. Also, it is one of the main sources of water for diverse localities in the provinces of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe. Due to its enormous ecological and social value and in response to the illegal mining activity in the area, a group of social organizations led by an NGO named ARCOIRIS, started a national and international campaign to protect this area

Basic Data
NamePodocarpus National Park and mining, Ecuador
ProvinceZamora Chinchipe
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date1985
Company Names or State EnterprisesCUMBINAMA S.A from Ecuador - a subsidiary of ECUANOR. S.A (Ecuador/Norway)
ECUANOR. S.A from Norway
Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from Australia
Rio Tinto Zinc RTZ Mining and Exploration Ltd. (RTZ) from Australia
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Military and Police forces., Instituto Ecuatoriano de Recursos Hdricos-INERHI (Ecuadorian Institute of Water Resources)., Ministerio de Obras Pblicas-MOP
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCORDAVI, The Partisans, Futuro en Nuestras Manos, Ecociencia, Fundacin Natura, Obispado de Loja., Maquipucuna, Cecia, Amigos Tierra, Brasil, Wildlife Conservation International, Pontificia Universidad Catlica del Ecuador
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Elaboration and implementation of an environmental education program among local inhabitants. Elaboration of scientific materials regarding the ecological importance of the Podocarpus. Documentaries
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.RTZ abandoned the area and the country in 1992 and CUMBINAMA despite its attempts to acquire new mining concessions within the Podocarpus, it could not obtain them. Until now the area remains without the development of large scale mining activities. In 2010 the government displaced artisanal miners from the zone of San Luis inside the Podocarpus National Park, and denied that a new concession was going to be given to a large company.
Sources and Materials

Ley Forestal y Conservacin de reas Silvestres (Forestry and Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife Law)


Varea, Anamaria, Carmen Barrera, Ana mara Maldonado, Lourdes Endara, Byron real, Victoria Reyes, Guillermo Robalino. 1997. Desarrollo Eco-ilogico. Conflictos socioambientales desde la selva hasta el mar. CEDEP/Abya-Yala


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Meta Information
ContributorSara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014