News Release

OECD Complaint Against Ascendant Copper: Canadian and Ecuadorian Organizations Allege Vancouver-based Ascendant Copper Breached International Corporate Responsibility Standards in Biodiversity Hotspot

Source: 
MiningWatch Canada – DECOIN – Friends of the Earth Canada

(Ottawa) Ecuadorian citizens’ group leader Carlos Zorrilla arrived in Ottawa today to file a formal complaint with Canada’s Department of International Trade against Ascendant Copper Corporation (ACC). Mr. Zorrilla and others are calling for an investigation into alleged breaches by ACC of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Mr. Zorrilla, representing Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag (DECOIN), stated, “I’m here because Canadians need to understand the real risk of violence that is emerging as a result of this company’s activities.” He went on to observe, “It is time for this country’s authorities to stop pretending they have no influence over this kind of corporate behaviour. The Canadian government must take action to curb the excesses of Canadian mining companies operating and exploring overseas.”

The OECD Guidelines are a set of corporate responsibility principles and standards the Canadian government is a signatory to and is obligated to promote.

Friends of the Earth/Les Amie(e)s de la Terre and MiningWatch Canada have joined with DECOIN in calling attention to ACC’s project in the cloud forests of Ecuador. Communities and local elected officials in the area are united to protect their livelihoods and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

ACC’s Junín project is located in the Toisan Range of north-west Ecuador (150 km from Quito), an area that is part of two of the world’s 34 Biodiversity “Hotspots”. In 1996, a preliminary environmental impact assessment carried out by Mitsubishi concluded that mining at Junín would result in massive deforestation, local climate change leading to desertification, contamination of rivers with toxic metals, and harm to dozens of endangered mammal and bird species.

The OECD complaint states that Ascendant Copper has not disclosed material information to the public and potential shareholders concerning its Junín project, including information on:

  • pending legal actions by the Cotacachi County government challenging the legality of the Junín concessions;
  • a land ownership dispute that could lead to militarization in the project area; and
  • intense opposition from local representatives and government officials to the potential forced relocation of four communities and the proposed mining activities generally.

ACC is seeking to raise money on the Toronto Stock Exchange to move forward with the controversial Junín project. The organisations are calling on the Canadian government to ensure that a number of other breaches to the Guidelines are also investigated before the project moves forward, including whether the company has:

  • disclosed reliable exploration data regarding mineral reserves;
  • engaged in improper political activities to seek an exemption to an environmental regulatory framework;
  • violated Ecuador’s Constitution and the national mining law for failing to obtain authorization from officials and local communities to conduct exploratory activities.

The complaint also requests that the Canadian government assess whether Ascendant Copper has addressed allegations of human rights abuses that have been levelled by a prominent Ecuadorian human rights organization.

For more information or to interview Mr. Zorrilla, please contact:

  • Graham Saul, Friends of the Earth Canada: tel. (613) 241-0085 x22 cell (613) 558-3368
  • Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada: tel. (613) 569-3439 cell (613) 761-2273

The full text of the complaint is available for download here and also in an unofficial Spanish translation along with its appendices:

List of Appendices

  1. Ascendant Holdings press release announcing creation of Ascendant Copper Corporation, 13 October 2004 (PDF, 163 KB)
  2. JICA/MMAJ 1996 Preliminary EIA: Section 2-7-4: Flora and Fauna Prognosis, Page 130 (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  3. JICA/MMAJ 1996 Preliminary EIA: Section 2-7-4, Page 131 (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  4. JICA/MMAJ 1996 Preliminary EIA: Section 2-7-6 Social Conditions, Page 133 (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  5. JICA/MMAJ 1996 Preliminary EIA: Summary, Section 2: Environmental studies in the Junín area, unnumbered pages, located before Page 1 (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  6. English translation of 1996 EIA pages (Appendices B-D) – (English translation) English translation of 1996 EIA summary (Appendix E) – (English translation) F1. All EIA pages as PDF (Appendices B to E) (2.35 MB)
  7. Letter from Auki Tituaña Males, Mayor of Cotacachi County, to the Toronto Stock Exchange, 8 March 2005 (English translation); G1. Letter from Auki Tituaña Males, Mayor of Cotacachi County, to the Toronto Stock Exchange, 8 March 2005 (Spanish text) 
  8. Petition for Clarification (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  9. Ascendant Copper’s “Community” web page for the Junín project (PDF, 126 KB) saved 19 April 2005
  10. Ascendant Copper’s map of the Junin concession (PDF, 213 KB) saved 21 April 2005
  11. Letter from four (4) Presidents, 6 March 2005 (English translation); K1. Letter from four (4) Presidents, 6 March 2005 (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  12. Letter from eight (8) Presidents, 7 March 2005; L1. Letter from eight (8) Presidents, 7 March 2005 (JPEG) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  13. Una Sola Voz petition (Spanish text); M1. “In a Single Voice” petition (English translation)
  14. “Ascendant acquires Junin property”, Business News Americas, 1 July 2004
  15. Letter from Earthworks to the Toronto Stock Exchange, dated 11 March 2005 (PDF, 54 KB)
  16. Working Agreement Between Ascendant Exploration and the García Moreno Parish Communities, saved 19 April 2005 (PDF, 280 KB) (Internet version in English); P1. Working Agreement Between Ascendant Exploration and the García Moreno Parish Communities, saved 22 April 2005 (PDF, 99 KB) (Scanned original in Spanish)
  17. Declaration from Cotacachi County Assembly, April 2005 (English translation) Q1. Declaration from Cotacachi County Assembly, April 2005 (Original in Spanish)
  18. Letter from CEDHU, 5 October 2004 (English translation); R1. Letter from CEDHU, 5 October 2004 (PDF, 236 KB) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  19. Letter from Leigh, Day & Co., 17 November 2004
  20. Letter from Heller Erhman LLP, 13 April 2005 (PDF, 178 KB)
  21. CODEGAM General Assembly Resolutions taken on 23 April 2005, web page saved 29 April 2005 (PDF, 296 KB) U1. CODEGAM General Assembly Resolutions taken on 23 April 2005 (PDF, 365 KB) (Scanned original in Spanish) U2. CODEGAM Resolutions - 5th March& 23rd April 05 (PDF, 81 KB) (English translation)
  22. JICA/MMAJ 1996 Preliminary EIA: Annex A-224 (PDF, 747 KB) (Photo of original in Spanish)
  23. Ascendant’s “Community” web page, “Social and Environmental Issues of the Junín area” section, saved 29 April 2005 (PDF, 382 KB)
  24. Letter from CEDENMA, 22 January 1999 (PDF, 1.4 MB) (in Spanish)
  25. Letter from Ecociencia, 14 January 1998 (PDF,124 KB) (in Spanish)
  26. Letter from Edward O. Wilson, Pelligrino University, Professor Emeritus and Honorary Curator, Museum of Comparative Zoology, 10 October 1997 (PDF, 148 KB) (in English)