Ecuador made its first export of 22,000 tons of copper concentrate from the Chinese-owned Mirador mine, the energy ministry says, marking a new milestone in the country’s effort to develop a large-scale mining industry. The delivery was made January 6 and 7.
Ecuador has large mineral reserves but is only beginning to establish industrial-scale mining projects. Its reserves are estimated to be the third largest in Latin America, only behind Chile and Peru.
Mirador is run by Ecuacorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan, which has a 30-year concession. It started production in July 2019.
The shipment of copper concentrate has a value of about $25 million, according to the ministry, and was transported to the Port of Guayaquil and then by sea to the Chinese city of Tongling.
The project will supply Tongling Nonferrous, based in eastern China’s Anhui province, with around 96,000 tonnes annually of copper concentrate, on a metal content basis, for 30 years.
Mirador, located in the Zamora Chinchipe province in Ecuador’s Amazon, foresees a total investment of more than $2-billion during the concession period. The Chinese company has paid some $100 million in early royalties to the Ecuadoran government.
The CRCC-Tongguan consortium bought the company with the concession for the open-pit mine under former leftist President Rafael Correa, who deepened Ecuador’s economic ties with China.
Environmental groups and local authorities have opposed mining activity in the country and are promoting popular consultation in some mineral-rich areas to prohibit their development and reverse concessions already granted to foreign companies.
The government of Ecuador is fighting efforts for consultations, and is asking the country’s supreme court to rule against them.
Credit: Engineering News, www.engineeringnews.co.za