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Iamgold and INV Metals in Kimsacocha, Azuay, Ecuador


Description:

The mining firm COGEMA was the first in carrying out exploration work in the area since 1991. In 1993 the companies Newmont Mining and TVX Gold became COGEMAs joint venture partners and the drilling activities became the responsibility of Newmont. This joint venture consortium lasted few years as the results obtained were not very promising. IAMGOLD acquired the Cerro Casco, Cristal, and Rio Falso concessions from COGEMA in March 1999. These mining deposits overlap with a Protected Forest with important headwaters. Local inhabitants were aware of Newmonts works but it was not until IAMGOLD presence in the area (2003) that local opposition became activated. During the following years local resistance and mobilization grew amidst of community division conflicts among mining opponents and supporters. As it was not the only mining project in the area, local communities extended their alliances both within the province and beyond. Generally speaking, local opposition has been responded by the government with violent repression. Since 2008 onwards the government attitude toward mining activity has became more radical in its promotion. Currently, it is negotiating the terms of the exploitation contract with IAMGOLD. Yet, local opposition has not ceased.

After many years of resistance, "el  24 de marzo de 2019 en el cantón de Girón, en la provincia del Azuay, se dio una consulta popular vinculante que decidió sobre la minería: la primera consulta de ese tipo en Ecuador. La consulta se alcanzó luego de largas resistencias y luchas, particularmente de la Federación de Organización Indígenas y Campesinas del Azuay (FOA) y de la Unión de Sistemas Comunitarios de Agua de Girón, que contaron con el respaldo de movimientos ciudadanos, entre los que se destaca el Colectivo Yasunidos de Guapondelig (Cuenca). Las comunidades campesinas de esa zona están peleando por el agua y sus páramos en Kimsacocha por casi 30 años, anhelando sostener su agricultura y ganadería". .



Three months later, “el redoble de tambores y consignas de grupos ecologistas se escucharon

este miércoles 5 de junio del 2019, a las afueras de la Corte Constitucional

(CC) en Quito, en  cuya puerta principal

colocaron un ánfora con la frase "el

agua vale más que el oro
". Hasta allí llegó el prefecto del Azuay,

Yaku Pérez, acompañado de dirigentes comunitarios del cantón Girón, en donde el

24 de marzo pasado se desarrolló una consulta contra el proyecto minero Kimsacocha

o Loma Larga. "Nuestra posición es categórica; en fuentes de agua, en páramos,

humedales, zonas de recarga hídrica, ningún tipo de minería ni pequeña ni

mediana, ni mega, ni formal ni informal", dijo Yaku Pérez.” (El Comercio. https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/prefecto-azuay-corte-constitucional-mineria.html).



Basic Data

Name of conflict:Iamgold and INV Metals in Kimsacocha, Azuay, Ecuador
Country:Ecuador
State or province:Azuay
Location of conflict:The parishes of Victoria del Portete, Tarqui, San Gerardo and Chumbn.
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Silver
Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The Kimmsacocha property consists of four mining concessions (Cerro Casco, Rio Falso, Cristal and San Martin).

Probable minerals reserves of: Ore 1,68Moz or 52,25 t; Silver 29.55 t; Cu 0.0034 MT Underground mining methods.

The initial project was: mine life of 7.5 years and the current deposit would produce an average of 202 000 ounces of gold per year at an average cash cost of US$272 per ounce (no royalties or profit sharing included).

In 2009 INV Metals completed the acquisition of a 100% interest in the Loma Larga property. https://www.invmetals.com/loma-larga-location-and-history/.

INV Metals has the concession of Loma Larga, "del que se espera extraer 2,6 millones de onzas de oro durante los 12 años de vida útil de la mina, además de 13,3 millones de onzas de plata y 88 millones de libras de cobre."

Project area:9500
Level of Investment:Capital expenditures up to commercial production,
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:12,000
Company names or state enterprises:International African Mining Gold Corporation (IAMGOLD) from Canada - IAMGOLD Ecuador S.A/ is the Ecuadorean subsidiary
INV metals from Canada - after 2012, new junior company
IAMGOLD Ecuador S.A from Ecuador
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Secretara Nacional del Agua-SENAGUA , Secretara de Planificacin y Desarrollo-SENPLADES.

Prefecto de Azuay (Yaku Pérez).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Accion ecologica., Coordinadora Nacional por la Defensa de la Vida y la Soberana-CNDVS (National Coordinating Committee for the Defense of Life and Sovereignty)., ECUARUNARI (In Kichwa Ecuador Runakunapak Rikcharimuy, Ecuadorian Indigenous Movement) better known as Confederation of Kichwa Peoples of Ecuador., CONAIE (the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador).
Yasunidxs Guapondélig, Guardianes del Agua.

Federación de Organizaciones Campesinas del Azuay (FOA), Consejo del Buen Gobierno de Molleturo, Sinchi Warmi. Comunidades de Río Blanco, San Pedro de Yumate y Molleturo centro.

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Pastoralists
Social movements
Trade unions
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Strikes
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Boycotts of companies-products

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place

Outcome

Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Repression
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The conflict was ongoing,mainly by water rights community organizations, but Iamgold in June 2012 sold its rights in the project. Resistance has been strong, community consultations in Victoria del Portete and Tarqui in 2011 showed large majorities against mining. Finally in 2019, there was a popular consultation in the Giron canton. "El resultado del referendo, que es vinculante, afectaría las actividades de INV Metals Inc, que tiene en esa área la concesión del proyecto Loma Larga, del que se espera extraer 2,6 millones de onzas de oro durante los 12 años de vida útil de la mina, además de 13,3 millones de onzas de plata y 88 millones de libras de cobre." (El Comercio.
https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/consulta-popular-mineria-giron.html.)

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Mining Law

Mining mandate

Ecuadorian Constitution

The Code of territorial Organization

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

IAMGOLD web page: (last accessed May 7, 2012)
www.iamgold.com

Latorre, Sara. 2009. El ecologismo popular. Pasado y Presente. IEE-FLACSO.

Hernan Quizhpe, tesis de maestría, Flacso, Quito 2019. La commoditización de las subjetividades: la minería en la provincia del Azuay, Ecuador y los casos de los proyectos Río Blanco y Loma Larga

IAMGOLD CORP. Press release N31/08. In: (last access: May 7, 2012).
http://www.infomine.com/index/pr/PA657750.PDF

Sacher, William and Alberto Acosta. 2012. La mineria a gran escala en el Ecuador. Analisis y datos estadisticos sobre la minera industrial en el Ecuado. Abya-Yala-Universidad Politecnica Salesiana. 2012.

http://www.miningwatch.ca/es/news/comunidades-ecuatorianas-dan-la-bienvenida-al-retiro-de-iamgold-y-alertan-la-empresa-inv-que-no

http://defensoraspachamama.blogspot.de/

El Universo, 26 marzo 2019. El no gana en la consulta popular en Girón, Azuay.
https://www.eluniverso.com/noticias/2019/03/26/nota/7253636/consulta-popular-giron-gana-no-mineria

El Comercio. 26 de marzo de 2019. El no se impuso con el 86, 79% en la consulta popular minera del cantón Girón, en Azuay
https://www.elcomercio.com/actualidad/consulta-popular-mineria-giron.html.

Other comments:Las mujeres estamos en resistencia, nos hemos unido porque nosotras somos las más afectadas, como madres y mujeres tenemos que dar buena alimentación, una buena agua a nuestra familia, porque si estaría el agua contaminada no habría para sobrevivir, no queremos aguas contaminadas.  Las mujeres estamos defendiendo el agua, el aire la tierra, porque somos los 4 elementos de la naturaleza, si nos faltaría el agua estaríamos agonizando, si nos faltaría la tierra como vamos a vivir de que alimento nos vamos a servir, si nos falta el aire no duramos ni 3 minutos, el agua tiene espíritu el agua es vida.” Gloria Velez Azuay, comunidad de la Victoria

Meta information

Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update28/01/2020

Images

 

Un grupo de defensores del agua del cantón Girón festejan los resultados de la victoria del no en la consulta popular el lunes 25 de marzo del 2019. Fotos Xavier Caivinagua para EL COMERCIO.