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Ecuador: Indigenous leaders opposing Junefield’s EcuaGold mining project attacked; saying operation is unconstitutional, Court orders to suspend project

On May 9th, Yaku Pérez Guartambel, Mario Gonzalo, Fárez Ramon, Víctor Hernández Siavichay and Manuel Gayllas are members of the Federación de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas del Azuay (Federation of Indigenous and Campesino Organisations of Azuay – FOA), an indigenous federation that has been supporting local indigenous communities in Río Blanco and Molleturo, who are opposing the activities of Ecuagoldminig South America S.A, were kidnapped and held for over seven hours by people allegedly working for this mining company.  They were released, and NGOs ask for investigations while a local judge decided to suspend the operations of the company saying it is unconstitutional.  Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Junefield Resources to respond.  The company did not respond.

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Article
18 July 2019

Ecuador: Local protests and legal action put operations at Chinese-owned gold mine in Rio Blanco on halt

Author: Ning Hui, China Dialogue

“How locals halted a Chinese-owned gold mine in Ecuador”, 5 July 2019

After just two months, local protests and legal action over threats to water sources and lack of consultation brought operations at the Rio Blanco mine to a halt… Via the courts local groups have managed to stop extraction at the Rio Blanco mine. But President Lenín Moreno’s government has appealed the ruling.

The story of Rio Blanco reveals the complex problems facing mining in Ecuador: inadequate public consultations; fraught questions of indigenous identities and rights; local versus state power; the protection of scarce natural resources…

… The country [Ecuador] has a 750 kilometre stretch of mostly undeveloped deposits of copper, silver, gold and zinc. Its government hopes mining will improve economic growth…

Chinese investment has taken a lead role in fulfilling that goal. Three of Ecuador’s five most important mines are funded and operated by Chinese firms. Both the Mirador and San Carlos-Panantza copper mines… are owned by a joint venture between Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group and the China Railway Construction Corporation. The third is the Rio Blanco gold mine, owned by Hong Kong’s Junefield Mineral Resources and the Hunan Gold Corporation…

In April 2018… news broke that Junefield had officially started mining the metal…

…  Junefield reduced the number of workers and cut hours; currently employees work an average of five days a month, meaning incomes have fallen sharply…

Andres [of Rio Blanco village] lists the “crimes” of Junefield: the quiet filling in of a mountain lake; the appropriation of a mountain road in use for generations, with a roadblock preventing locals using it; the storing of mining explosives near a water source…

… Yaku Sacha Pérez, a Cuenca-based lawyer specialising in water and indigenous peoples… asked Andres if the government or company had carried out prior consultation with local communities before developing the mine.

“What’s prior consultation? We’d never heard of it before,” Elizabeth [of Rio Blanco village] recalled…

Prior consultation is a civil right, more fully expressed as the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), included in the 2006 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…

The conflict came to a head in May 2018. Protestors invaded the mine, damaging roads and burning camps. The government dispatched hundreds of police and soldiers in response. Meanwhile, Yaku Sacha lodged a case in the provincial court bought by the villagers of Rio Blanco and other nearby villages against the mining and environmental authorities. On June 5, judge Paul Serrano found that there had been no prior consultation with locals, as required under the constitution and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and ordered a temporary halt on all mine activity. On August 3, the court rejected a company appeal attempting to restart operations.

This was the first time a court in Ecuador had found in favour of indigenous communities because of foreign mining firms failing to carry out prior consultation…   A similar lawsuit against the Chinese-funded Mirador copper mine is underway, with the plaintiffs referring to the Rio Blanco decision in their case.

Junefield's office in Cuenca declined our requests for an interview. [Also refers to China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China]

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Author: 宁卉, 中外对话(英国,中国)

“金山上的来客(上)”, 2019年7月5日

厄瓜多尔一个金矿附近的社群,利用原住民特有的权利,将矿区告上了法庭,并且赢了这场官司…

厄瓜多尔是个工业化程度低、极度依赖石油资源的国家。近年原油价格下跌,厄瓜多尔经济受到重创。政府把经济增长的希望寄托在天然矿产资源之上。厄瓜多尔境内有长达750公里的天然矿藏带,富含极具潜力的铜、银、金、锌等能源,大多未被开发…

实现这个新计划的过程中,中国资本占据要位。目前,厄瓜多尔最重要的五个矿里有三个由中国公司投资和运营。其中,位于该国东南角亚马逊生态圈内的米拉多和圣卡洛斯-帕那萨铜矿,由中国铜陵有色金属投资有限公司和中国铁路建设有限公司合资持有,剩下一个就是…位于安第斯山脉高处、由香港庄胜集团和湖南黄金集团联合投资的白河金矿…

2018年4月,庄胜公司在白河金矿正式开采金银的消息传出…

… 村民在矿区的工作机会也变少了。庄胜来了之后,很多清洁或烧饭的工作都被削减了,从原本的全职变成了轮岗,平摊下来,一个人一个月才能工作五天,收入急速降低。

安德烈斯[白河村的居民]历数矿区「罪状」:几年前,山上一个高原湖泊被矿业公司私下填了;好几代人一直用的山涧小路,也被矿区划为己用,设下栏杆,不许村民通行;公司把开矿用的火药存在水源附近,住在下游的村民担心污染。

… 律师亚库… 常驻昆卡,深耕水资源和原住民议题二十多年。亚库问:白河金矿在开发前,公司或政府是否与附近小区有过事先咨询?

「事先咨询是什么?我们之前从未听说过。」伊莉萨白[白河村的居民]略激动地回忆。

事先咨询是一条公民权利,完整的表达为:自由事前知情同意权(Free, Prior and Informed Consent,简称FPIC)。这项权利针对土著(或称原住民)人群,在2006年的《联合国土著人民权利宣言》中提出…

2018年5月,抗议者闯入矿区,损坏道路,烧毁采矿营地。厄瓜多尔政府派数百名警察和士兵看守矿区。两边的对峙达到顶端。同一时间,在亚库的代理下,白河村和附近其他村落反对矿业的村民将厄瓜多尔矿业部和环境部告上省级法庭。6月5日,法官塞拉诺判定白河金矿没有按照宪法以及《联合国土著人民权利宣言》的要求,与当地小区事前协商,判决暂停矿区的一切活动。8月3日,法院驳回上诉,继续暂停白河矿区的活动。

在厄瓜多尔国内法庭,这是原住民小区第一次以没有事前协商为由,赢得与外国矿业公司的官司… 由中国资本投资的米拉多铜矿也面临类似诉讼,白河金矿的判决便被米拉多的社群原告引用,提交法庭。

在昆卡的庄胜公司未接受端传媒记者的采访请求。[文章提及国家开发银行和中国进出口银行]

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Author: 寧卉, 中外對話(英國,中國)

“金山上的來客(上)”, 2019年7月5日

厄瓜多爾一個金礦附近的社群,利用原住民特有的權利,將礦區告上了法庭,並且贏了這場官司…

厄瓜多爾是個工業化程度低、極度依賴石油資源的國家。近年原油價格下跌,厄瓜多爾經濟受到重創。政府把經濟增長的希望寄託在天然礦產資源之上。厄瓜多爾境內有長達750公里的天然礦藏帶,富含極具潛力的銅、銀、金、鋅等能源,大多未被開發…

實現這個新計劃的過程中,中國資本佔據要位。目前,厄瓜多爾最重要的五個礦裡有三個由中國公司投資和運營。其中,位於該國東南角亞馬遜生態圈內的米拉多和聖卡洛斯-帕那薩銅礦,由中國銅陵有色金屬投資有限公司和中國鐵路建設有限公司合資持有,剩下一個就是…位於安第斯山脈高處、由香港莊勝集團和湖南黃金集團聯合投資的白河金礦…

2018年4月,莊勝公司在白河金礦正式開採金銀的消息傳出…

… 村民在礦區的工作機會也變少了。莊勝來了之後,很多清潔或燒飯的工作都被削減了,從原本的全職變成了輪崗,平攤下來,一個人一個月才能工作五天,收入急速降低。

安德烈斯[白河村的居民]歷數礦區「罪狀」:幾年前,山上一個高原湖泊被礦業公司私下填了;好幾代人一直用的山澗小路,也被礦區劃為己用,設下欄杆,不許村民通行;公司把開礦用的火藥存在水源附近,住在下游的村民擔心污染。

… 律師亞庫… 常駐昆卡,深耕水資源和原住民議題二十多年。亞庫問:白河金礦在開發前,公司或政府是否與附近小區有過事先諮詢?

「事先諮詢是什麼?我們之前從未聽說過。」伊莉薩白[白河村的居民]略激動地回憶。

事先諮詢是一條公民權利,完整的表達為:自由事前知情同意權(Free, Prior and Informed Consent,簡稱FPIC)。這項權利針對土著(或稱原住民)人群,在2006年的《聯合國土著人民權利宣言》中提出…

2018年5月,抗議者闖入礦區,損壞道路,燒毀採礦營地。厄瓜多爾政府派數百名警察和士兵看守礦區。兩邊的對峙達到頂端。同一時間,在亞庫的代理下,白河村和附近其他村落反對礦業的村民將厄瓜多爾礦業部和環境部告上省級法庭。 6月5日,法官塞拉諾判定白河金礦沒有按照憲法以及《聯合國土著人民權利宣言》的要求,與當地小區事前協商,判決暫停礦區的一切活動。 8月3日,法院駁回上訴,繼續暫停白河礦區的活動。

在厄瓜多爾國內法庭,這是原住民小區第一次以沒有事前協商為由,贏得與外國礦業公司的官司… 由中國資本投資的米拉多銅礦也面臨類似訴訟,白河金礦的判決便被米拉多的社群原告引用,提交法庭。

在昆卡的莊勝公司未接受端傳媒記者的採訪請求。 [文章提及國家開發銀行和中國進出口銀行]

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Article
25 June 2018

Ecuador: NGOs express concerns to Chinese Government over attacks against indigenous leaders allegedly by Ecuagoldmining

Author: Amazon Watch

“Worldwide Solidarity with Indigenous Leaders Threatened by Chinese Mining Project in Ecuador” – June 21, 2018

This morning in Quito, Ecuador, indigenous, campesino, and civil society organizations delivered an international sign-on letter to the Chinese embassy expressing concern over Ecuagoldmining [part of Junefield Mining Resources], a Chinese mining company allegedly involved in the kidnapping, illegal detainment, violent assault, and assassination attempt of three indigenous leaders in Molleturo, Ecuador last month. The letter was signed by 132 organizations and individuals around the world, including forty-three winners of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize…On May 9, 2018, the indigenous leaders were trapped in their car after the assailants slashed their tires and threatened to set the car on fire near the Rio Blanco gold mining site, which is owned and operated by Ecuagoldmining. For over 7 hours, the three men were forcibly held against their will until they were finally released in the afternoon. According to local Ecuadorean communities and organizations, workers of the mining company carried out these acts of violence and intimidation in order to frighten and terrorize those who speak out or oppose the Rio Blanco gold mine. Already, other Chinese-owned mining companies are associated with the deaths of indigenous peoples who seek to protect their homes. [Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Jungfield to respond; the company did not]

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Company non-response
19 June 2018

Non-respose by Junefield Resources

Author: Junefield Resources

Junefield Resources did not respond

Article
3 June 2018

“Ecuadorean Judge Halts Excavation of Gold Mine”

Author: TeleSurTv

3 June 2018

Judge Paul Serrano of the Cuenca civil court ruled over the weekend that the Ecuagoldming Rio Blanco mining concession financed by the Chinese company Junefield violates articles 57 and 398 of the nation's 2008 constitution. The articles mandate that the government provide various public hearings in communities that may be environmentally affected by nearby projects…Negotiations for the Rio Blanco mine began in 2000 but escalated in 2016, as did protests by community members of Molleturo and Rio Blanco who say that they have seen their local streams become contaminate over the past two years. These same fluvials provide drinking water to one of Ecuador’s biggest cities, Cuenca. The Rio Blanco area serves as a buffer zone that protects the ecosystems of nearby Cajas National Park…The case was brought to the court by Ecuarunari, a decades-old indigenous rights group in Ecuador, citing that the towns potentially most affected by the mining projects - Molletero and Chaucha - had not been consulted as required by the constitution. Critics say that there was never any public hearing made available in Cuenca, a city of well over half a million people…The judge's ruling also ordered the removal of some 300 security forces stationed in front of the site's entrance after community members in the region tried to storm the mining camp weeks ago resulting in severe damage to excavation equipment.

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Article
16 May 2018

“Ecuador: Kidnapping of four indigenous peoples’ rights defenders”

Author: Fidh

16 May 2018

On 9 May 2018, indigenous peoples’ rights defenders Yaku Pérez Guartambel, Mario Gonzalo, Fárez Ramon, Víctor Hernández Siavichay and Manuel Gayllas were kidnapped and held for seven hours, during which time they were threatened and Yaku Pérez Guartambel was beaten. The human rights defenders believe the kidnappers work for Ecuagoldmining South América S.A, part of Chinese mining company Junefield Group S.A, which is mining in Molleturo del Cantón Cuenca, Ecuador. After the people of Molleturo del Cantón Cuenca called for their safe return, the defenders were released on the condition that they never again set foot in Molleturo Municipality…Yaku Pérez Guartambel, Mario Gonzalo, Fárez Ramon, Víctor Hernández Siavichay and Manuel Gayllas are members of the Federación de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas del Azuay (Federation of Indigenous and Campesino Organisations of Azuay – FOA), an indigenous federation that has been supporting local indigenous communities in Río Blanco and Molleturo, who are opposing the activities of Ecuagoldminig South America S.A, because of the risk of pollution to their land, and the effects the mining would have on the communities’ health and access to clean water. The mining company did not obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities affected by the mining…

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