Friends of the Earth Canada - MiningWatch Canada
Communities in Ecuador's Intag region have filed for an injunction to stop Canadian junior mining company Ascendant Copper Corporation (TSX:ACX) from working to develop an open pit copper mine on their land.
Junín community president Edmundo Lucero rushed to file the constitutional injunction with the Imbabura Provincial Court yesterday before Ascendant Copper closed the community review period for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of its Junín project.
"Ascendant's EIA exposes the reasons why no mining activities should be allowed in the Intag region," says Andrée Germain, International Campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "It documents strong and on-going resistance to the project from those communities who stand to be directly affected. If the mine proceeds, the study projects severe permanent and irreversible impacts on primary forests and other native vegetation, the destruction of habitats for over a dozen endangered animal species, the loss of archaeological evidence in the project area, a medium to high risk of seismic activity and landslides in the project area, and threats to the communities' already-limited water resources."
Despite compelling biodiversity and social impacts, the EIA process is a procedural formality in Ecuador rather than a public process to assess whether the project should be permitted to go ahead. As a result, the Intag communities have retained the legal services of Alejandro Ponce to help file the constitutional injunction. Ponce is a human rights lawyer also representing over 30,000 people in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Texaco in Ecuador's Amazon region.
The injunction was accepted yesterday by the local courts. If granted, it could hold up the Junín project indefinitely, in part due to the backup of cases facing the Constitutional Court.
"Ascendant has tried to side-step the law and due process since it acquired the mine concessions two years ago," says Jamie Kneen of MiningWatch Canada. "At first they promised 5000 jobs to local residents to get them to agree to the project - now in the EIA we see that the real number is closer to 30. Does Ascendant really think that will be enough for the communities, when even for 5000 jobs the cost was too high?"
For additional information please contact:
Andrée Germain, Friends of the Earth, (613) 241-0085 ext. 26 cell (613) 724-8690
Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439
Carlos Zorrilla, DECOIN, [email protected]
Get the facts - view the film "The Curse of Copper" at www.ascendantalert.ca
The Intag region of Cotacachi County in the province of Imbabura is part of both the Chocó and Ecuadorian Andes biodiversity hotspots. Cloud forests like that of Intag are among the most endangered ecosystems-down to less than 10 percent of their original extent, mostly destroyed in the past 40 years-and also contain exceptionally large numbers of plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world.