News Release Number No. 206 - 2006
The Civic Corruption Control Commission investigates, on its own initiative, the compliance with legal norms and procedures in the preparation and approval of the Environmental Impact Study and Environmental Management Plan for the Golden 1 and Golden 2 mines, belonging to the Ascendant Copper company ASCENDCOPPER S.A, in the Intag area, Cotacachi County, Imbabura Province.
Due to the fact that several of the preparatory processes prior to the execution of the mining project are already underway, the C.C.C.C. calls attention to the irregularities and illegalities that would be committed in the process of authorizing the Environmental Impact Study and Environmental Management Plan and which, if not corrected in a timely matter, would put in grave danger the environment of the Toisan Range, one of the 25 most biologically important areas of the planet, whose protection, along with the safeguarding of social peace, holds primacy in the Constitution, as expressed in Art. 23, number 6 which stipulates: “The law establishes restrictions in the execution of certain rights and liberties in order to protect the environment.”
Ascendant Copper’s (ASCENDCOPPER S.A.) mining project in the Toisan Range, contemplates the exploitation of copper and molybdenum in the Golden 1 and Golden 2 mines, which have a total surface area of 4,904.57 hectares.
Strict compliance with legal and technical norms and procedures is required in order to guarantee the efficient protection of the environment and the rights of the populations located in adjacent areas, which is not being done in the present case because:
1) ASCENDANT COPPER, since it obtained the mining concession, has not to date presented the Preliminary Environmental Impact Study, contravening what is established in the second section, item (b) of Article 11 of the Environmental Regulation for Mining Activities, which establishes that said study should be presented “prior to initial exploration activities, and once the mining concession has been obtained. The preparation of the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment should be based on the corresponding form found in the Appendix of this Regulation and should be presented within ninety days from the issuing of the mining concession.”
2) According to the information available on its web page (www.ascendantcopper.com) on July17, 2006, the company finds itself undertaking the Preliminary Environmental Impact Study, even though the mining concession was obtained on November 17, 2004. In July, 2006 the company informs that it “established a field office last month to receive comments on the terms of reference for the Preliminary EIA. These terms have been presented to the Ministry of Energy and Mines for their approval, after which the company can start the exploration phase”.
3) From the information analyzed to date, it turns out that the Terms of Reference have not been legally consulted with the community, and neither was approval obtained from the Ministry of Energy and Mines for the opening of a consulting office.
4) The Terms of Reference identified as the basis for the future Environmental Impact Study do not require the realization of an Environmental Feasibility Study for ASCENDANT COPPER’s ASCENDCOPPER S.A Project. There is no way of finding out about different exploitation methods or technologies that could significantly reduce the impact.
5) The document presented as the Environmental Impact Study, prior to the approval of the Terms of Reference, shows a qualitative analysis and does not take into account the principal environmental impacts of the mining project. The units of costs are expressed in units of time, such as monthly or annually, which does not detail how many hectares will be reforested, how many samples will be taken to evaluate the impacts or to orient the Management Plan. Everything points to a superficial study with no relation to the reality of the project.
6) The archeological evaluation presented as the study of the Junín project mining concession area minimizes the archeological importance of the area.
7) The Mayor of Cotacachi has to date not issued the report required by article 11 of the Mining Law, since the mining project involves populated areas.
For the above reasons the C.C.C.C. by its constitution and legal powers urges the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Iván Rodríguez Ramos, to ensure the legal and technical norms required prior to the authorization of the mining project in the Intag area are strictly adhered to, especially the enforcement of the Environmental Regulations for Mining Activities, and in particular that which is regulated in item (b) of article 11. Furthermore, it warns of his responsibility for the inobservance of said norm.
Dr. Alfredo Alvear Enríquez
Date: 20 July, 2006