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Lowell mining company in Shuar territory, Ecuador


The Shuars indigenous territory is located in the Cordillera del Condor, an area of extraordinary biodiversity. Since the 1990s the Ecuadorian government granted several mining concessions on sites located within Shuar territory. Within this context, in April 1999 the mining company BHP Billiton signed a contract with the Shuar community of Warintza. This company transferred its Cordillera del Condors mining project to the company Corriente Resources in the early 2000s. The latter, in 2001, managed to extend the previous agreement signed by BHP Billiton (Warintza mining project) for five more years. As a result, intra-ethnic conflicts arose among those Shuar centres that were in favor of this activity and those opposed. In 2003 the mining company Lowell Mineral Exploration acquired the Warintza project and signed another agreement with the community for a 30-year period. Concerns arose among the Shuar, who held diverse assemblies to discuss the situation. In October 2006 the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centres (FICSH) declared its opposition to mining activity within its territory and exhorted Lowell company to abandon its territory by November 1st of that same year. As the company refused to withdraw, on November 2nd 2006, Shuar members successfully expelled it. Yet, the concession still remains in force.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Lowell mining company in Shuar territory, Ecuador
State or province:Morona Santiago
Location of conflict:Warintza
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:Copper

Project Details and Actors

Project details

There is very little information regarding this project. The Ecuadorian government has included this project in those declared as second generation projects.

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2004
Company names or state enterprises:Lowell Mineral Exploration
Corriente Resources from Canada
BHP Billiton (BHP) from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (now the Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Accion Ecologica, Fundacion Natura

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation
Referendum other local consultations
The mining camp occupation and expulsion of the mining workers.

Impacts of the project

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, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The concession is still in force and it is likely that once the strategic mining projects are in exploitation phase, the government will initiate the required permits for projects like this.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislationsĀ - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Mining Law

Environmental Management Law

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Latorre, Sara. 2009. El ecologismo popular. Pasado y Presente. IEE-FLACSO.

Chicaiza, Gloria. 2010. El enclave minero de la Cordillera del Cndor. Accin Ecolgica, Ecuador.

LinksĀ to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Meta information

Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014