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5 Nov 2018

Amazon Frontlines

Ecuador: Indigenous communities win lawsuit challenging 52 gold mining concessions in Amazonian rainforest

"An unprecedented legal victory for indigenous rights in Ecuador frees up huge swath of Amazonian rainforest from gold mining", 22 Oct 2018

On October 22nd 2018, the Kofan people of Sinangoe in the Ecuadorian Amazon won a landmark legal battle to protect the headwaters of the Aguarico River, one of Ecuador’s largest and most important rivers, and nullify 52 mining concessions that had been granted by the government in violation of the Kofan’s right to consent, freeing up more than 32, 000 hectares of primary rainforest from the devastating environmental and cultural impact of gold mining...

In a historic ruling, the Provincial Court accepted evidence of environmental impacts provided by the community of Sinangoe and the provincial ombudsman, charged the government with not having consulted the Kofan, denounced the mining operations for having violated indigenous rights to water, food and a healthy environment, and cancelled all mining activity in more than 52 concessions at the foothills of the Andes.  The ruling, which cites the precautionary principle and uses Ecuador’s new law on the rights of nature, also forces authorities to set in place restoration measures...

The headwaters of the Aguarico River...were threatened by mercury and cyanide pollution commonly used in gold mining operations in the Amazon, until the Kofan successfully blocked it by suing the Ecuadorian government...