Ascendant gets a rough ride in Ecuador, can’t get picked up in Toronto
The company launched its IPO on October 14, 2005 (stock symbol ACX), but so far has only managed to attract an additional 16.3% investment according to its listings on sedar.com, at prices considerably below its target - $1.50 to $1.70 per share as opposed to $2.
Meanwhile, on December 10, 2005, over a hundred residents of the 20 villages nearest Ascendant's Junín concession in northwestern Ecuador expressed their frustration with the company's aggressive development program by setting fire to and destroying Ascendant's “La Florida” model farm building at Chalguayacu Bajo. Ascendant personnel have reportedly been repeatedly trying to get onto the concession, testing the communities’ blockade of the area, while at the same time trying to buy land in the area around the concession.
The company has publicly claimed that the model farm was actually a clinic, that its employees were attacked and injured, and that computers and medical supplies were stolen by community members before they set fire to the building. These claims are emphatically denied by community members present at the action, according to representatives of DECOIN who have talked to them. Interestingly, the company’s legal complaint asking the Ecuadorian Attorney-General to investigate the event does not mention that the building destroyed was a clinic (and nor do any of Ascendant’s other public documents); nor does it mention a doctor’s report proving any injuries were sustained by anyone. The document is signed by the company’s legal representative, Juan Carlos Bermeo, Ascendant's General Manager in Ecuador.
The community representatives maintain that Ascendant has no hope of acquiring a “social licence” to mine, and should withdraw from the area. They also want the company to disassociate itself from – and cease funding – CODEGAM, the group that is trying to create a new county so Ascendant wouldn’t have to deal with the requirements of Cotacachi County’s “ecological ordinance”.