The mountain El Lomón is losing its quietness, the aroma of the native trees of guayacán, chonta ... the small springs of pure water, the delicate and natural trill of the birds, the oxygen accumulated for millions of years. The contamination has already started. They do not have septic tanks, people do their business in the middle of the native plants. The aroma of the wild trees is disappearing. In only two months, one smells the stink at a safe distance. This is a health issue that no one knows how to remedy.
The invasion came at an unexpected time. "Before Christmas I went to the village. At the end of the week when I returned hundreds of people had broken the fence of some 60 hectares of cattle pastures. There were so many that I could hardly complain. They told me they were going to pay, but only some have given me 50 cents when it occurred to them, " said Primitivo Andrade, a 75-year-old man whose face and clothes reflects his poverty.
The first day they discovered the mines, the miners knocked down dozens of trees with chainsaws, axes and machetes, and created an opening about two kilometers across to enter the mines.
Groups of five to ten men erected their plastic tents in the same place as the excavations, from where they extract the rocks with splinters of gold. At only three meters deep they found the 'betas'. That day, cries of overflowing happiness were heard that shook the mountain.
Since then, thousands of people, including businessmen, carriers, sellers, merchants, businessmen, among others, arrived in that corner of Urcuquí.
Those from Portovelo and Zaruma are more numberous and have the most experience. They help guide others whose ambition for gold has made them reckless. With a bar, sledgehammer, an iron point and a lever, they make holes wherever they want, without the slightest precaution to avoid a landslide that could bury everyone.
The miners say in the beginning shippers earned up to $800 per week to move the material 100 meters from the mine to where pulleys of air transport were placed. A pack of cigarettes cost between $4-5 until competition came and now prices have gone down, according to a Venezuelan migrant who walks among the trees accompanied by a nice and slender woman.
In the air you can see about 80 cables that carry the sacks of rock to the market. The route is about five kilometers by air. The freight is $11-12 dollars per package. A sack in the mine costs $20, and when it leaves Buenos Aires it is calculated at $38 dollars.
The noise of the small engines that drag the pulleys back and forth starts at dawn and sometimes stops at 2am , for a few hours.
The gold material is transported in trucks to Zamora Chinchipe, Zaruma and Portovelo for refinement with appropriate machinery.