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NEWS: Indigenous peoples march against proposed Mirador copper mine in Ecuador

ENS reports, “Several hundred members of the largest Ecuadorian indigenous organization began marching today to the capital, Quito to protest new mining in their territory. They expect to arrive in Quito on March 22 (World Water Day). The indigenous march started from Yantzaza in Zamora Chinchipe province southern Ecuador where a Canadian company has been authorized to develop a large open pit copper mine the first large scale mine under a new government mining policy. …As people gathered today in Zamora Chinchipe to start the march, provincial prefect and indigenous leader Salvador Quishpe reiterated their concerns for aboriginal communities where mining pollutes formerly pristine lands and rivers.”

“The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, CONAIE said that at the heart of the current discontent is not only this particular mine but also President Mr Rafael Correa’s plans to allow international companies to carry out large scale mining projects. They are demanding that the government pass legislation to regulate water management and land redistribution.”

“Mr Wilson Pastor minister of nonrenewable natural resources said that on March 5th, the Correa government signed an agreement with Ecuacorriente the local unit of British Columbia based Corriente Resources Inc that allows the company to mine the Mirador copper project. Mr Pastor said that the company intends to invest about USD 1.4 billion over the next 5 years in the Mirador project. Ecuacorriente will pay USD 100 million in advance royalties to fund social projects in areas around the mine.”

Message of solidarity
We will be attempting to send a message of solidarity to those on this march. In early-February 2012, more than 1,000 people undertook a nine-day ‘march for water’ in Peru to protest mining projects proposed by foreign corporations and to demand that the national government withdraw its support from these projects. In Lima the marchers were joined by an estimated 20,000 people in the Plaza San Martin. Protest organizer Marco Arana stated, “We have to make a choice between mining and water. …The march is demanding a ban on the use of mercury and arsenic in mining, to stop mining in the basin headwaters and the declaration of the access to water as a basic human right.”

Ottawa-based Council of Canadians water campaigner Meera Karunananthan and Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena sent a message of solidarity that was read to the thousands assembled in Lima at the conclusion of the march. That message said, “The Council of Canadians stands with the more than 200 communities and civil society organizations in Peru who are demanding an end to mining injustice and calling for water to be recognized as a human right within the Peruvian constitution.”

Ecuadorians challenge the TSX in court
In June 2010, Briarpatch reported that Marcia Ramírez and two other Ecuadorian plaintiffs began a lawsuit in a Canadian court against the Toronto Stock Exchange for more than $1.5 billion in damages. They claim that violence in their rural community could have been avoided had the TSX not listed the Copper Mesa Mining Corporation, which is also named in the lawsuit. An environmental impact study had indicated that the mine would jeopardize the health of the rivers and forests in the northwestern valley of Intag, as well as displace several communities.

Shout Out!
The Council of Canadians will raise the subject of water and human rights violations related to mining in Latin America and Canada at its ‘Shout Out against Mining Injustice’ this June 1-3 in Vancouver. Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be joined by other prominent speakers and people from mining-impacted communities at a large public forum on Friday June 1 starting at 7 pm PT.

Jennifer Moore of MiningWatch Canada has stated, “The Toronto Stock Exchange is a principal source of global mining financing today and specializes in services for junior mining companies. According to the Mining Association of Canada, 55 per cent of the world’s publicly traded mining companies were listed on the TSX at the end of 2008, far more than any other stock exchange. Canadian stock exchanges also provided 31 per cent of the world’s mining equity and handled 81 per cent of financing transactions for the global mining industry between 2004 and 2009. In Latin America, a prime target for Canadian mining investments, Canadian-listed companies operate roughly 1,400 projects and have been the focal point of widespread protests and human rights abuses throughout the region.”

The Council of Canadians has been monitoring about a dozen of those 1,400 Canadian-listed mining projects in Latin America. For blogs on those mines, please see