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Ecuador: Community members say Hanrine Exploration & Mining did not consult Indigenous peoples prior to project

“An Ecuadoran town that survived illegal miners now faces a licensed operator”, 18 August 2021

...“La Merced de Buenos Aires,” or simply “Buenos Aires,” became famous throughout Ecuador...In July 2019, 1,102 police officers, 1,200 soldiers and 20 prosecutors arrived in the area as part of an operation called “Radiant Dawn” (“Amanecer Radiante”). In the first few days of the raid, they managed to remove about 3,000 people from the mining camps. The operation also dismantled 30 gold-processing plants and a complex system of pulleys for transporting the gold. According to María Paula Romo, the minister of government at the time, the illegal gold trade in Buenos Aires was valued at about $500,000 per week...But in 2020, residents realized their land was being considered as a potential mining site again — this time in search of copper — by a company owned by an Australian firm. Since November 2017, the company has obtained eight mining titles in the area, one of which overlaps with the illegal mining area. The residents of Buenos Aires have declared their resistance…Favio Ocampo is the head of operations of Hanrine Ecuadorian Exploration and Mining S.A...Using the argument that the opposing residents who are blocking the company’s entry into the land are illegal miners, Hanrine has launched civil and criminal actions against several people from the community, including some local authorities…On April 21 this year, the Ombudsman’s Office said in a public announcement that the government will be responsible for the criminal proceedings of the Buenos Aires community leaders and those who are defending human rights and the rights of nature.The community says the company has never publicized the mining project and that neither they nor the Awá Indigenous people participated in an environmental consultation or a free and informed prior consultation…

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