Mining interests demand protection following attacks on workers and police in Cotopaxi Province

Mar 21, 2024 | 0 comments

The Ecuador Chamber of Mining condemned violence Wednesday and Thursday at the La Plata mining project in Cotopaxi Province. “Those involved in attacking representatives of the mining company and police should be arrested and prosecuted,” said Chamber president María Eulalia Silva. “More important, legally sanctioned mining projects in Ecuador must have permanent protection against criminals who stage attacks like the ones this week.”

Two trucks belonging to a Canadian mining company were burned Wednesday during a protest in Cotopaxi Province.

In addition to injuries suffered by police and protesters Wednesday in Palo Quemado parish, two trucks belonging to a Canadian mining company were burned.

The attacks occurred when personnel of the Mining Ministry and the mining company were conducting environmental studies at the mine site.

“There is a process defined by law that mining interests must follow before mining can begin,” Silva said. “This involves consultations with local residents and environmental impact studies, among many other requirements. Once these functions are successfully concluded, construction and excavation should be allowed to proceed without obstruction, especially obstruction involving violence.”

Silva added that the government must take responsibility for protecting mining operations. “Protection of the operation, including for personnel and equipment, must be maintained — this is an official function. If law and order is not maintained, mining interests will not come to Ecuador and the country will lose valuable revenue.”

In a radio interview, Silva questioned the motives of former presidential candidate Yaku Pérez and president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) Leonidas Iza. “We fully support their right to challenge projects in the Constitutional Court, which they are doing, but to suggest there will be violence unless the projects are abandoned, is unacceptable.”

Silva referred specifically to comments made by Iza that residents near mining projects will “rise up and tear down” mining infrastructure. “He is promoting violence and anarchy and not respecting the lengthy and thorough process that is required before mining projects are approved.”

On Wednesday, Iza called for an end to all mining projects in Ecuador and announced a series of protests at mining projects throughout the country.

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