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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

NameLowell mining company in Shuar territory, Ecuador
ProvinceMorona Santiago
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

Project DetailsThere 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 Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesLowell Mineral Exploration
Corriente Resources from Canada
BHP Billiton (BHP) from Australia
Relevant government actorsThe Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (now the Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources).
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAccion Ecologica, Fundacion Natura

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationLand occupation
Referendum other local consultations
The mining camp occupation and expulsion of the mining workers.


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-economic 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)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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


Mining Law

Environmental Management Law


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

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


Media Links

Meta Information

ContributorSara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014