Quito, Ecuador, 16 May 1997
On Monday the 12th of May, fifty people from seven local communities, representing 225 local families, peacefully occupied the installations of the Japanese Mining Company Bishimetals and the state mining institution CODIGEM. The installations, which are part of a proposed mine, are located in the forest of Junin, in the South-West of the Province of Imbabura; the area forms part of the buffer zone for the Cotocachi-Cayapas reserve, and the internationally recognised Choco' region.
The reason for the occupation was the lack of consultation between Mitsubishi and CODIGEM, and the communities. The previous Saturday the President of CODIGEM (Corporacion de Desarrollo e investigacion Metalurgico-Minera) had been invited to talk about the proposed mine with community members in the village of Junin, but failed to show up. Up to the present time, neither CODIGEM nor Bishimetals has carried on any type of conversation or consultation with the local people, about the social or environmental desireability of mining in the area.
The Junin organisations are complaining that the Bishimetals project does not have their prior approval and is therefore being developed "outside the national mining law". The communities are demanding an immediate and definitive end to any exploration and possible exploitation of copper in the Junin region. They cite the impacts indicated in the project's Environmental Impact Statement such as:
Accion Ecologica, with whom the communities are working, also opposes the project, not only because of its local impacts, but because of the impacts mining has at the national level. It is expected that the present drive to expand mining in Ecuador, initiated by the Ecuadorian Government, with the help, and prompting, of the World Bank, will:
We are asking you to please send a letter of support for the position of the communities, asking for an end to the Junin project, to:
Dr. Raul Baca Carbo,
Ministro de Energia y Minas,
Santa Prisca 223/225,
with a copy to:
The General Manager
Mitsubishi Materials Corp.
5-1 Ohtemachi 1 - Chome,
Chiyoda-ku, (box 184, Central PO),
Tokyo 100, Japan.
Sr. Marcos Lima Aravena
CODELCO Fx.en Chile,
Huerfanos 1270, Santiago de Chile
Fax: 56-2-690 3288
Presidenta, Accion Ecologica,
118 Paez y Patria
Edificio Flacso 3er Piso,
In December of last year, the press announced the discovery of large deposits of copper and other minerals in Junin, situated in the Province of Imbabura, on the western flanks of the Ecuadorian Andes. The area has been under exploration for the past five years by the Japanese mining company Mitsubishi, together with the state mining company, CODIGEM (part of the Ministry of Energy and Mines). Apart from Bishimetals, the Chilean Trans-national mining company CODELCO has also recently expressed interest in investing in the proposed mine.
The Junin mining project is located in one of the world's most biologically diverse areas, the forests belonging to the zone known as the Choco', which Ecuador shares with Colombia. The area is also one of those most threatened by deforestation, Ecuador having only 12% of these unique forests remaining. According to local calculations, the Cordillera de Toisan, in which Junin is located, is home to dozens of threatened species, which will have their habitats severely affected if the roads for the extraction of the minerals are built.
The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) whose goal is to study the exisiting social and environmental conditions in the area, and to predict the probable impacts of the project has identified the following problems:
- Area of the open pit mine 200 hactares
- Mine road 225 hectares
- Tailings dam area 221 hectares
- Waste dam area 664 hectares
- Mining plant 41 hectares
South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC)
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