Last update:

Mining projects in Intag, Junin, Ecuador

Community mobilization stops since 1991 the mining exploitation in the Intag Valley but the progress and threats continue. Environmental impacts on ecosystem, water and the community are already seen.

This case form has been translated for your convenience using translation software powered by Google Translate. Therefore, they may contain errors. Any discrepancies or differences created in translating this content from the original version into another language are not binding and have no legal effect. If any questions arise related to the accuracy of the information contained in these translations, please refer to the version of the case in: Spanish (Original)


The Cupriferous Mining Project today known as Llurimagua is located in the western foothills of the Western Mountain Range of the Andes in the province of Imbabura and in the region known as Intag. Its forests belong to the most important biodiversity hotspot in the world, tropical andes. The site where copper was discovered is very rich in water, and covered by cloud primary and secondary forest which house tens of endangered species, some reported in these forests and anywhere else on the planet. Communities and organizations have released a fight against 4 mining companies since 1995 in defense of their constitutional rights, and to protect their sources of water, and their native forests and biodiversity, which give life to the entire region [1 ] [2].

The struggle of the Intag Valley has motivated the organization and deployment of various initiatives of women, youth, producers (organic coffee, agroforestry systems, network of small hydroelectric plants, ecotourism, as well as a strong process of organization and territorial mobilization that seeks to defend the territory and propose other ways of living it more just and sustainable [3]. Throughout these years, more than one hundred social and environmental scientific research has been generated in the area [4], alternative reports have been promoted [5], as well as established radios, newspapers and various local and virtual information channels. International collaboration networks have been created that have allowed, for example, that the fight will reach Toronto Stock Exchange [6]. And the struggle continues under the various Ecuadorian governments that see on large-scale mining the continuation of a backward oil economy.

A conflict with History

In 1991-1998 Bishimetals reaches Intag in 1991 product of an agreement of Japanese-Ecuadorian governments to evaluate the mining potential of the sector within the concession today known as Llurimagua. Bishimals at the time, was a subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Corporation, and the entire project was funded by the Japanese Government, through its International Development Cooperation Agency (JICA). It is important to point out the latter since the studies were not financed by mining companies, but with public funds from the Japanese, and is the only EIA that really shows the impacts of a large-scale mining project in a site like Intag.

In the year 1996, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Metal Mining Agency of Japan (MMAJ) publish the report of their exploration activities, including a section where It warns drastic environmental and social damage for a small copper mine. These include the relocation of hundreds of families from four communities, massive deforestation, which will lead to local climate drying (the term used in the study was desertification), until impact on endangered species and the Cotacachi-Cayapas National Park. As well as the pollution of rivers and broken with lead, arsenic and other heavy metals, increased crime and impacts to pre-champic archaeological vestiges.

These impacts were based on A mine of only 450,000 tons of pure copper in a deposit of 72 million tons of Mena. The following year the presence of 2.26 million tons of copper was inferred in a deposit of 318 million tons. In 2018, Codelco estimated that it could have 17 million tons of copper in a deposit of 3,846 million tons of Mena.

In 1997, the comuneros around the project They bring together and form a committee and decide to request the departure of the Junín Forest's company. Neither the government nor the Japanese respond and the comuneros burned the camp. The company leaves Intag without having concluded the investigations, not without before the government prosecuting 3 comuneros due to sabotage and terrorism. In 2018 the government gave up judgment.

In 2004, the presence of Canadian company Ascendant Copper is verified and a division and conflict phase begins. By seeing a strong opposition, progressively the tactics become more violent, including death threats to certain leaders. In 2005, the company's camp is burned on a low chalguayacu by comuneros of the entire Intag area.

Although the comuneros were denounced to justice, the judge absolves them alleging in his opinion: "The Ecuadorian Criminal Code does not foresee the criminal sanction to a community," (...) "The Assemblymen have been the ones who made the decision to set fire Facilities of the company Ascendant Copper S.A. In defense of the environment and its community, by the mining works that has undertaken in the area, before this decision Polybio Pérez, who directed the same and the other accused, is obvious that they were before The tax decision of the comuneros and acted then moved by a force majeure (Community resolution) "[7].

In October 2006 based on a false denunciation was mounted A judicial assembly against Carlos Zorrilla, from the Organization Intend Decoin, whose end was to arrest him and imprison him to silence him and his organization. He tried failed, but included the invasion of his home with 19 policemen strongly armed with arrest and raid-raid order. It did not result in the company because Carlos was able to evade capture, escaping at the last moment, hiding in the forest. In 2018, a court in Quito sentenced that the complaint was malicious. The police, it is worth mentioning, planted a weapon, ammunition and drugs in their home, which led to another capture order by illegal holding of weapon (this chapter can be seen in the feature film under rich floors).

In November 2006 Ascendant Copper hires Quito security companies and train several Intag inhabitants in paramilitary tactics. They try to enter the mining concession via Cerro Pelado, but the communities block the entrance despite the fact that the employees of the company used tear pumps and trained dogs.

in December In 2006, the company hires another security company which quickly hires former soldiers, puts their costume of the company and gives them weapons that were eventually identified as of illegal production. On December 2, they try to get into the concession again by High Chalguayacu. A confrontation and shooting are carried out using illegal weapons against unarmed commuvers, but eventually the police are withdrawn. A few days later approximately 100 Intag inhabitants, meet in Junín and, knowing where the paramilitaries are falling from surprise and arrest 57 of them. Eventually they are delivered to the police with illegal weapons, but the government did nothing (this chapter can be seen in several documentaries, including, after haze, under rich soils, among others. None of the paramilitaries, or their bosses were sanctioned, despite using unregistered illegal weapons).

In 2011, Ecuador and Chile sign Agreement for Codelco to develop certain selected mining projects without tender. ENAMA EP (Ecuador's National Mineral Company) is the Holder of the Minera Llurimagua Concession.

In 2012 the presence of the national company Minera Emilica and Codelco trying to socialize The mining project now as the support of the Chilean government. Codelco does not see her in socializations, who gives the face is the ENAMA who is also the holder of the concession. Most communities reject the attempted socialization to such an extent that the government and the company is forced to use much more aggressive tactics [8].

In 2013, companies fail to enter the communities to socialize the project and generate support, so the President Rafael Publicly Correa, and on several occasions, discreditiates Leaders of the opposition in Intag, to such an international amnesty intervened to guarantee the integrity of one of the leaders [13].

In April 2014, when an Enami truck tried to access the mining concession is blocked by comuneros by the high chalguyco sector. In the confrontation someone breaks the windshield of the truck and the employees of La Enami, even though it was the first time they entered the area, identify Javier Ramírez as responsible and his brother Víctor Hugo Ramírez. Javier, it is worth mentioning, at that time he was the president of the Junín community and one of the best-known antiminery activists. However, at the time of conflict Javier was at home being attended by a Belgian doctor and was unable to be mobilized due to a severe swelling of the knee. The arrest was made arbitrarily without the arrest warrant and was held when he returned with another companion of the community of a meeting convened by the Minister of the Interior at that time, José Serrano. Javier is transported several hours in a patrolman, the reason for the arrest is not informed. Just when he reached jail, the capture order is shown. It is imprisoned for 10 months without judgment, so eventually be sentenced to 12 months, sentence that it was reduced to 10 for good behavior. (This chapter and the following can be seen in several documentaries on YouTube (Javier, and Intag; Harassment to Intag; Intag helplessness ...)

in May 2014 the government Send 389 troops from elite police and military groups that entered violently to the mining concession. Codelco installs his camp at the site called the viewpoint where the community took his tourists within the community reserve that the Decoin. Reservation acquired by the Community A Ends 1990. Also the forest where advanced exploration eventually developed is part of the community reserve, however, at that time nobody had scriptures [9].

The police, it is worth mentioning, occupied not only the sector of Junín and High Chalguayac, but the entire area of ​​Intag for months violating fundamental rights as the right to transit freely. In Junín they remained at least 6 months. According to inhabitants, at that time He took advantage of the company to "socialize" the project to the inhabitants, but they went from home at home sheltered by police or a brazen intimidation

The DeCoin estimates that between 2015 and 2018, the company started its exploration, drilling at least 90 wells in the primary forest of the community. At the beginning of 2019 Codelco reported the possible presence of 17 million tons of copper in a deposit of 3,860 million tons of MENA. However, the figure handled by the Government is 982 m / tons of MENA [9].

at the end of 2018 CODELCO requested the expansion of the exploration area to Another 700 hectares within the mining concession. Until 2021, the impact study has not been approved and contains very serious omissions and errors.

Inspection of the Ombudsaler and uncestors of the Ombudsman.

In August 2018, the General Comptroller of the State inspected the mining project, and March 2019, published its report [10], in which it reported more than 20 irregularities and violations by state entities: a) To the Enhouse-Codelco Convention, b) Environmental Impact Study (lack of basic information, for example, c) poor socialization, d) lack of consultation, e) lack of environmental license, which is why The Comptroller reported that there were enough arguments to cancel the mining concession and put a high on the project.

In April 2019, the Ombudsman's Office published its resolution on the abuses Associated with the presence of miners in Intag, detailing numerous violations of human rights and nature ZA [11].

Since 2019, Codelco, who has financed almost 100% of the exploration, withdraws its equipment (in November 2018) and to date (10-2021) Do not restart activities, waiting for it to be approved in new environmental impact study to expand the exploration area. Another obstacle is non-compliance with the bilateral agreement, where it indicates that a new company should be constituted to continue developing the mining project. That breach led, in 2021, to Codelco to take the Ecuador to the ICC, International Tribunal based on Paris.

Constitutional actions.

With the support of the DeCoin, civil society raised precautionary measures based on the violation of the rights of nature (probable extinction of two species of endemic frogs to the mining area). He won in the first instance (Sept 2020), but was lost in the appeal for insurmountable failures from the first instance judge (2021) [12].

The DeCoin denounces that companies (ENAMI and CODELCO, but Codelco more than everything) continue to be presence in the communities surrounding the project and have hired approximately 50 workers between Junín and Cerro Pelado and continue to offer dádivas to the communities instead of obtaining their support . Meanwhile, in 2021 there were several clashes in the Barcelona sector and Cerro Peeled at times that Codelco tried to enter to socialize the mining project, or to give things.

Since DeCoin stands out that based on environmental impacts predicted by Japanese experts in its 1996 preliminary environmental impacts for a small copper mine, it could become one of the most devastating the history of mining. This opinion is based on mining projects in similar sites; Since highly sensitive factors coincide as high rainfall, the super plenty of frequetic water, the presence of primary forests that house tens of endangered species, very rough topography, seismic risks, the content of the deposit that will generate Drainage mining acid, copper mixed with heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and cadmium.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mining projects in Intag, Junin, Ecuador
State or province:Imbabura
Location of conflict:Cotacachi.
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 1996, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Metal Mining Agency of Japan (MMAJ) publishes the report of their exploration activities, including a section where drastic environmental and social damage is warned for a small copper mine. These include the relocation of hundreds of families from four communities, massive deforestation, which will lead to local climate drying (the term used in the study was desertification), until impact on endangered species and the Cotacachi-Cayapas National Park. As well as the pollution of rivers and broken lead, arsenic and other heavy metals, the increase in crime and impacts on pre-inclaic archaeological vestiges.

See more
Project area:7,000.
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:37,000.
Start of the conflict:1991
Company names or state enterprises:CODELCO from Chile
Ascendant Copper from Canada
Empresa Nacional Minera del Ecuador (ENAMI) from Ecuador
Mitsubishi heavy industries from Japan
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Energy and Mines, Municipality of Cotacachi
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from Japan
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Coordinator Zonal Intag, Zonal Environmental Management Committee, Committee Zonal Education, Coordinator of Women's Intag, Consortium Toison, Intag Council Coordinator, Ecologist Organization DeCoin (Ecological Defense and Intag Conservation, ., Assembly of Cantonal Unit of Cotacachi, Assembly of Popular and Diverse Women of Ecuador, Ecological Action
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:- The Agroarteante Association of Rio Intag Coffeehouses emerged as a
Proposal to mining.
- Hidrintag is the proposal of small dams for the generation of hydroelectric energy that cover the demand of the inhabitants of the Valley of Intag and its surroundings.
The Tisan consortium was formed to coordinate various territorial alternatives
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:However and despite the events that arise and consequent success of
The inhabitants against mining activity, activity
It continues to be a latent threat, since the governments that have continued maintain an extractivist policy through which the country is intended to enter a large-scale mining stage
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[10] Contraloría General del Estado. Empresa Nacional Minera, ENAMI EP. Dirección Nacional de Auditoría de Recursos Naturales. Quito, Ecuador.
[click to view]

Constitución Ecuatoriana

Prior Consultation International Treaty.

Mandato Minero
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[11] Defensoría del Pueblo del Ecuador. Gina Bemavides Llerena, Defensora del Pubelo. Alexandra Cárdenas Valladares, Directora Nacional de Derechos Colectivos, Naturaleza y Ambiente. Resolución No. 003-DPE-DNDCNA-2019.
[click to view]

Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de America Latina OCMAL

Calidad del Agua en la zona de Intaga y su relacion con el Suelo, Knee K. y Encalada A. 2012

Fact Sheet, Ecuador Intag, EJOLT.

Evaluacion multicriterial de alternativas, Intag (UASB, Mariana Walter, Sara Latorre y otros, 2014).

[1] A Brief History of Resistance to Mining in Intag, Ecuador. MiningWatch Canada. Publicado el 12 de febrero de 2005.
[click to view]

[2] Brief History of Resistance to Mining in Intag. Breve Historia de la Resistencia a la Mineria. Escrito por Carlos Zorrilla. Publicado en Decoin el 13 de enero de 2010.
[click to view]

[3] Corporación TOISÁN.
[click to view]

[4] UASB-Digital: Íntag, un territorio en disputa: evaluación de escenarios territoriales extractivos y no extractivos. Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar de Ecuador. Latorre, S., Larrea, C., Walter. M. Publicado en 2015.
[click to view]

[5] An Ecological Study of Ecuador's Intag Region. Earth Economics. Publicado en diciembre de 2011.
[click to view]

[6] Intag Activists to Sue Canadian Stock Exchange and Canadian company. Escrito por Carlos Zorrilla. Publicado en Decoin el 21 de febrero de 2009.
[click to view]

[7] Absueltos los sospechosos del incendio a Ascendant . Publicado en La Hora el 18 de octubre de 2006.
[click to view]

[8] MINING PARADISE: THE NEW SEASON (ENAMI OFFICIALLY IN INTAG). Escrito por Carlos Zorrilla. Publicado en Decoin el 5 de julio de 2012.
[click to view]

[9] Ecuador: Intag retoma su historia de lucha para enfrentar nuevo proyecto minero. Escrito por Isabel Riofrio. Publicado en Mongabay el 6 de septiembre de 2018.
[click to view]

[12] Si ganaran las Ranas... Articulo de Carlos Zorrilla publicado en Medium el 12 de enero de 2021.
[click to view]

[13] Ecuador: Temor por la seguridad de activistas medioambientales. Publicado en Amnesty en 12 de diciembre de 2013.
[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[click to view]

Other comments:Specific impacts on women: A large part of the family impact of human rights violations has relapsed about women, on labor burden, serious affective impacts, becoming many occasions in the only livelihood and care of their children. Presence of the public force in the communities, has also meant situations of intimidation and harassment to women, which proceed on the consumption of alcohol by the public force. "We had a normal home without problems, now my life is altered, before we had the house both now I have taken responsibilities, cooking, washing, sleeping late, getting up early, my daughter is frightened watching police around the house, if mining was given, I would like to leave here "(village of Junín) Policy exercised on these communities has not only supposed the rupture of social tissue in the community but also the rupture of family and personal relationships Between friends and neighbors.
Meta information
Last update23/11/2021
Conflict ID:778
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.