Please zoom in or out and select the base layer according to your preference to make the map ready for printing, then press the Print button above.

Podocarpus National Park and mining, Ecuador


In the mid 1980s the Ecuadorian government granted various mining concessions within the Podocarpus National Park, despite its illegality. A company named CUMBINAMA S.A. obtained one of these concessions. It obtained the prospection and exploitation permits in 1985. This company worked at Podocarpus until 1990. It then sold its concession to Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ). This park contains one of the few remainders of Podocarpus sp woods in the country. Also, it is one of the main sources of water for diverse localities in the provinces of Loja and Zamora Chinchipe. Due to its enormous ecological and social value and in response to the illegal mining activity in the area, a group of social organizations led by an NGO named ARCOIRIS, started a national and international campaign to protect this area

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Podocarpus National Park and mining, Ecuador
State or province:Zamora Chinchipe
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:

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:1985
Company names or state enterprises:CUMBINAMA S.A from Ecuador - a subsidiary of ECUANOR. S.A (Ecuador/Norway)
ECUANOR. S.A from Norway
Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from Australia
Rio Tinto Zinc RTZ Mining and Exploration Ltd. (RTZ) from Australia
Relevant government actors:The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Military and Police forces., Instituto Ecuatoriano de Recursos Hdricos-INERHI (Ecuadorian Institute of Water Resources)., Ministerio de Obras Pblicas-MOP
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CORDAVI, The Partisans, Futuro en Nuestras Manos, Ecociencia, Fundacin Natura, Obispado de Loja., Maquipucuna, Cecia, Amigos Tierra, Brasil, Wildlife Conservation International, Pontificia Universidad Catlica del Ecuador

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Elaboration and implementation of an environmental education program among local inhabitants. Elaboration of scientific materials regarding the ecological importance of the Podocarpus. Documentaries

Impacts of the project

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, Mine tailing spills
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Application of existing regulations
Withdrawal of company/investment
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:RTZ abandoned the area and the country in 1992 and CUMBINAMA despite its attempts to acquire new mining concessions within the Podocarpus, it could not obtain them. Until now the area remains without the development of large scale mining activities. In 2010 the government displaced artisanal miners from the zone of San Luis inside the Podocarpus National Park, and denied that a new concession was going to be given to a large company.

Sources and Materials

Related laws and legislationsĀ - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ley Forestal y Conservacin de reas Silvestres (Forestry and Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife Law)

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

Varea, Anamaria, Carmen Barrera, Ana mara Maldonado, Lourdes Endara, Byron real, Victoria Reyes, Guillermo Robalino. 1997. Desarrollo Eco-ilogico. Conflictos socioambientales desde la selva hasta el mar. CEDEP/Abya-Yala

LinksĀ to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Meta information

Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014