Ecuador mining conflict evolves into a battle for indigenous identity

Río Blanco communities opposing Chinese mine claim right to consultation amid accusations of ‘playing the indigenous card’


(DiálogoChino - July 1, 2019)


"Ecuador is banking on the extractives sector to power its development but Río Blanco, one of the country’s biggest mining projects, is caught up in a legal battle that will be decided in the constitutional court.

Judges from Ecuador’s highest court will determine how to end three years of legal and even physical confrontations between Chinese mining company Junefield Ecuagoldmining and several local communities in the mountainous southern region 60 kilometres from Cuenca city.

In a first hearing, residents defeated the company, which wants to exploit the Río Blanco mine’s gold and silver deposits. However, President Lenín Moreno’s government appealed the ruling and the case remains in limbo.

Pending a final ruling, the highly publicised case has exposed the difficulties faced by Ecuador’s mining sector: the lack of dialogue between companies and communities; concerns about its environmental footprint; and the near complete absence of the state".


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