The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ecuador Says New Regulations Will Foster Responsible Mining

QUITO – Ecuador’s new mining regulations, which among other things give the government a 50 percent participation in companies’ operations, will set the country on a path toward “responsible mining development,” a top official said Thursday.

In statements to Radio Sonorama, Non-Renewable Natural Resources Minister Germanico Pinto commented on the executive orders that were issued Wednesday and which serve to enact new mining regulations contained in a law passed in January.

Referring to criticism from environmentalists and Indians about the supposed threats to the environment and indigenous communities, Pinto acknowledged that some aspects of the law could be improved and said the government is “absolutely open” to dialogue.

However, he said the executive orders signed by President Rafael Correa highlight the “virtues of the law regarding the management, government control and citizen supervision” of initiatives to develop Ecuador’s reserves of gold, silver, copper and iridium.

In addition to a decree enacting a general law for the industry, Correa also signed executive orders implementing laws on the development of small-scale mining and environmental regulations for the operations, as well as several documents enabling the creation of the ENM national mining company.

The president also decreed the creation of other regulatory agencies and an institute for geological, mining and metallurgy research.

The mining law stipulates, among other aspects, that only the central government is empowered to approve multinational companies’ bids for mining projects and that 50 percent of the earnings from mining projects must be handed over the government.

In addition, under the new regulations, mining companies must present complete technical and environmental-impact studies before embarking on extractive activities and employ clean, cutting-edge technology.

As the regulations are applied, “serious problems with mining in Ecuador will be corrected,” including environmental pollution and the lack of oversight and training and of government monitoring of development projects, Pinto said.

He added that “not only will the problems be corrected, but we’ll turn the page: it’s a turning point for the development of responsible mining” in the environmental and social sense.

Pinto denied that the government has already given the green light to international mining companies to carry out development projects and stressed that, for the moment, “only advanced exploratory activity” is being carried out.

“What we did through the mining mandate (a degree issued last year halting large-scale mining in the country) is to verify that companies are complying with the law and legal requirements,” Pinto said. EFE

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