Amazonian Indigenous Peoples Condemn Attempts to Forge Support for Ecuador Mining Project at Toronto Conference

Amazon Watch – MiningWatch Canada

(Ottawa, Quito) Last Friday, the Indigenous Pueblo Shuar Arutam government (PSHA) released a public statement condemning a Canadian company Solaris Resources, owner of the Warintza copper-molybdenum project, and the Ecuadorian government for using unelected representatives of the Shuar peoples in Canada to misrepresent the project as enjoying the support of the Shuar. The“consultation process” that was presented at the recent conference of PDAC (the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada) in Toronto does not respect the political structure of the PSHA and does not comply with international standards which guarantee that any such process be prior, free and informed. Moreover, the process itself has been carried forward without the prior consent of the affected communities.

Between March 1 and March 4, Solaris Resources published several photos on its official Twitter account which included several members of the “Shuar, Yawi advisory board” in meetings with Canadian government officials (Global Affairs Canada), the Canadian International Resource Development Institute (CIRDI), and B.C. Ministry of Mines ADM Peter Robb and Tahltan First Nations President Chad Day, along with Ecuadorian officials from the Ministry of Environment and the country’s diplomatic corps in Canada. According to those who attended the events at the PDAC conference, the Ecuadorian participants identified themselves as leaders of their communities, which the PSHA denies and rejects.

With these actions, the PHSA says Solaris is violating fundamental principles of business and human rights that establish that companies have the responsibility to respect human rights recognized in international agreements like ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. These actions also promote the fragmentation of the legitimate organizational structures of Indigenous peoples and nations in Ecuador.

The Shuar Arutam government council is the only representative of the 47 communities and 6 associations that make up the PSHA. Those representatives are elected in a general assembly. The PHSA  emphasised in its statement that “...The individuals who participated in those events and meetings in Canada are usurping Indigenous government functions, and they are there solely in response to the interests of the mining projects.”

The PSHA condemned the official launch of the consultation document in Canada at PDAC, “Evaluation of the mechanisms of Prior Consent. Communities from the Shuar Nation: Warints and Yawi” (attached), stating:

Solaris and the Ecuadorian government have invented a process of “prior consent” wherein  two communities have supposedly participated. This is a clear violation of our collective rights, since a prior, free and informed consultation process should be in coordination with our own organization and include the participation of the 47 communities who make up the PSHA. More importantly, those spaces for consultation must seek our consent, and not be spaces of propaganda which seek only to present the benefits of the mining activity.” 

The statement goes on to ratify the position taken at PSHA assemblies which in 2019 led them to launch a campaign called “The Shuar Peoples have already decided: No to mining, we don’t want to be consulted.

Carlos Mazabanda, Amazon Watch’s Ecuador Field Coordinator, noted: 

“These mechanisms are manufacturing support for a mining project, when the reality in the territory is completely different. These strategies confirm that the government does not have the political will to guarantee the rights of the Shuar Arutam Peoples. This was determined by the UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples in her Ecuador mission in 2019. She recognized that these consultation processes were being imposed and recommended that all concessions not respecting Indigenous rights be revoked. Notwithstanding, the government has continued to ignore her recommendations and mining concessions continue to proliferate in Indigenous territories.

Canadian mining companies are the most prominent foreign economic interest in this region, and in Ecuador as a whole. 

It is clear that these kinds of company PR strategies in Toronto have real impacts in worsening the already-tense situation on the ground. The continued and unwanted presence of mining companies in the region, and their insistence on drilling in Shuar territory without the consent of the legitimate Shuar government, represents a real threat to peace in the regionThe Shuar peoples have spoken – and said, ‘No,” said Kirsten Francescone, Latin America coordinator at MiningWatch Canada. 

For more information or to set up interviews with the PSHA

About Solaris Resources’ Warintza Project

The Warintza mining project is located in southeastern Ecuador in the province of Morona Santiago. The project is located in the “Cordillera del Condor” mountain range, whose biological and ecological properties are invaluable for their natural richness and constitute the livelihood and territory for the 47 communities of the Shuar Arutam Peoples. 

The copper-molybdenum project is 100% owned by Canadian company Solaris Resources Inc. whose 8 concessions cover 268 km2. Solaris Resources is a spin-off of Equinox Resources, and is fully owned by Equinox Resources, whose shareholders include controversial mining promoters Ross Beaty, Lukas Lundin and David Lowell.