UN experts call for free and open consultations for Ecuador mining projects

May 14, 2024 | 0 comments

Ecuador authorities should ensure that environmental consultations in relation to mining projects are aligned with human rights standards, notably by including all communities that will be affected by new extractive activities, and by respecting their right to freedoms of expression and assembly, a panel of UN human rights and environmental experts said Monday.

Local protesters from Las Pampas arrive at the entrance of the nearby town of Palo Quemado in March, finding the road blocked by riot police.

“We are concerned that the failure to convene all potentially affected people, together with the lack of full and impartial information regarding the potential negative consequences of these projects have exacerbated social conflict,” the experts said.

To reactivate several mining projects halted due to social conflicts, Ecuador’s government has established a process of environmental consultation prior to authorizing the resumption of production. However, a number of potentially affected indigenous peoples and communities have excluded from the process and information about the projects was incomplete. These include residents of the parishes of Las Pampas and Palo Quemado, in Cotopaxi Province, near to the mining project La Plata SA, and Las Naves in Bolivar Province, near to the Curipampa- El Domo project, owned by Salazar Resources Ltd. and Adventus Mining Corporation. Both are Canadian-owned companies.

“Discontent in the communities has been exacerbated by the temporary deployment of police and military personnel in Palo Quema, causing clashes between the security forces and community members,” the experts said. More than 70 human rights defenders, including Indigenous leaders, have been criminally charged for opposing these projects and criticizing the way in which the consultations are being held.

“We are concerned that several complaints have been filed by the companies responsible for the projects as a retaliation measure against human rights defenders and protesters. This would be in contradiction with their responsibility to respect human rights, in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the experts said.

“Consultation and participation processes in the context of mining projects must be in line with international standards, providing space for dialogue with all potentially affected parties, which should be fully informed prior the start of any project. The right to free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples must be respected, as well as the rights of Afro descendants,” the experts said.

The experts have previously engaged with the Governments of Ecuador and Canada, as well as the involved companies on these issues.
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Credit: National Tribune

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