(Sucúa/Quito/Ottawa) On the 20th of November, the Pueblo Shuar Arutam (PSHA) released a public statement rejecting the Warintza mining project and its possible sale. PSHA's statement reaffirms the environmental, legal, social, and reputational risks of the project for its potential buyers and investors of its parent company, Solaris Resources Inc., as reported in March in the Amazon Watch report, The Risks of Investing in Solaris Resources.
PSHA’s statement comes in response to recent corporate disclosures from Solaris Resources Inc., which outlines efforts to further the exploration of the mine by seeking new financing and hiring of a new chief operating officer to lead the project. This information also suggests that Chinese companies may be strong candidates for acquiring the mine–a project that has not undergone a consultation process.
On October 3, 2023, junior Canadian mining company Solaris Resources Inc. announced the appointment of “China International Capital Corporation Limited (“CICC”) as the company’s Chinese financial advisor”. According to the company, it appointed CICC to assist in “fielding and evaluating the merit” of proposals it has received from parties interested in its Warintza copper project in the Ecuadorian Amazon. According to the analysts quoted in the Financial Post, a sale to a Chinese company “could trigger a review by the federal government under the Investment Canada Act (ICA)” because of a “policy that made it more difficult for foreign businesses, either owned or influenced by ‘non-like-minded’ nations to own or take a stake in Canada’s critical minerals sector”.
Indigenous communities affected by the Warintza project warn potential buyers of the project, stating that its operators lack a social license to operate.
“We oppose any entity providing additional investment for this project in our territory or any attempt to sell the project to another company using and promoting the name of the Shuar people” reads the statement issued on November 20th. The PSHA also recounts its historical resistance to Canadian mining on its territory, noting that PSHA evicted the last buyer of the project, Lowell Mineral Exploration from its territory in 2006.
Solaris Resources Inc. does not comply with international standards of Free, Prior, and Informed Consultation, as it seeks to impose the Warintza project by promoting division among communities. Jaime Palomino, president of PSHA, elaborates: "The Shuar Arutam people have consistently rejected the Warintza project for many years. Despite this, the company insists on promoting the project by dividing the communities and trying to reach agreements with other Indigenous organizations. Both the company and the Ecuadorian government should respect our own government structure and our autonomy. Therefore, we are unaware of and reject any agreement that is or has been signed on our behalf."
“The Warintza project not only impacts one of the most biodiverse and unique areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Cordillera del Cóndor, but also implies serious risks for its investors. Investors should be concerned about investing in a project with over 20 years of firm and continued opposition by Indigenous communities whose collective Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination has been denied,” says Viviana Herrera, the Latin America Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada.
Raphael Hoetmer, director of the Western Amazon program at Amazon Watch states: "Contrary to optimistic projections and assessments of future mineral exploitation by Warintza, the stark truth is that the project has an uncertain prognosis. The Warintza project was suspended between 2006 and 2019 due to Shuar opposition, and is currently seeking to move forward in a climate of high conflict. Therefore, potential gaps in disclosures about this opposition may mislead current investors and future buyers of the viability, profitability, and financial risks of the project."
PSHA's pronouncement belies Solaris Resources, which has focused on signaling to the financial community that it is making progress in securing the social license needed to make the sale of the project attractive, by creating what the company calls a “Strategic Alliance” with only two of the 47 Shuar communities. This strategy of division undermines PSHA´s organizational structure as has been denounced by the Pueblo Shuar Arutam People.
- Viviana Herrera, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada: [email protected], +1 (438) 993-1264
- Raphael Hoetmer, Director de la Amazonía Occidental, Amazon Watch, [email protected] Amazon Watch, +51 997934463
- Ricardo Perez, Asesor de Comunicaciones de Amazonía Occidental, Amazon Watch, [email protected], +51 943 992 012
- Laura Salas, Directora del Programa para América Latina, WITNESS | [email protected]
For over two decades, the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA), Southwest Ecuador, in the Amazonian province of Morona Santiago, in the Cordillera del Cóndor, have firmly expressed their opposition to the extractive megaprojects, including mining in their territory. In 2019, they declared their lands “a territory of life (TICCA)” and launched an international campaign “PSHA Already Decided: No Mining!” On January 2021, PSHA’s Governing Council, together with Public Services International (PSI), filed a complaint with the ILO against the Ecuadorian State for violation of ILO Convention 169 and for violating their collective rights and not consulting them on projects being carried out on our territory.
In 2019, Solaris Resources acquired Lowell Mineral Exploration and the controversial Warintza Project, which remained dormant since 2006 after PSHA evicted Lowell Mineral Exploration.