For nearly a decade, in the south central highlands of Ecuador, just south of the country’s third largest city of Cuenca, campesino and Indigenous communities that depend on farming and dairy production have been fighting against the gold and silver projects of Canadian mining companies, such as IAMGOLD.
They continue to voice concerns about the destructive impacts mining could have on their water supplies. Criminalization of local community members and leaders has occurred at each stage of their struggle.
Local dairy farmers participated in a series of scientific studies, protests and meetings with state and company respresentatives out of concern that IAMGOLD’s exploration activities were already contaminating their water supplies.
After finding our that their local parish president was collaborating with the company, they shut down public operations of the parish government office, briefly holding the parish president captive.
Land defenders participated in demonstrations, including marches and road blockades in order to have their demands heard.
State mediation led some groups to temporarily stop protesting and to undertake a study to demonstrate that IAMGOLD’s mining concessions had been granted illegally, without prior consultation or due process according to mining regulations.
A small group took to the streets in June.
Those facing legal processes were granted amnesty by the National Constituent Assembly. It was not long, however, before stigmatization would begin anew and community leaders would face new charges…
The Mining Mandate was decreed and IAMGOLD’s Quimsacocha project was suspended.
The Quimsacocha project resumed. The Mining Mandate was not otherwise applied to revoke the company’s concessions, even though they continue to overlap with important water supplies and protected forests, and were not previously consulted with local communities.
2009 to 2010
Communities in Azuay turned out in large numbers to protest the government’s proposed water law that failed to protect water supplies from large-scale mining or to ensure campesino and indigenous organizations a decisive role in water management.
In an effort to offset its own risk, IAMGOLD sold the project to INV Metals, in which it became a majority stakeholder, such that IAMGOLD retains an interest in the project, now called Loma Larga.
Since June 2013
INV Metals has been assessing how to advance the project under a new definition for “medium-scale” mining activities, even though local communities have been very clear that they are not interested in any mining of any scale in order to protect their water supplies.
A new round of protest and criminalization is anticipated.