National articulation of territories threatened by metallic mining
June 8, 2018
Andrew Mackenzie, CEO BHP
Malcolm Norris, CEO Sunstone
Nicholas Mather, CEO Solgold
Mark Tory, CEO Monterra
Andrew Forrest, CEO Fortescue Metals
Sandeep Biswas, CEO Newcrest Mining Limited
Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia
Josh Frydenburg, Minister for the Environment and Energy of Australia
Ros Croucher, President, Australian Human Rights Commission
We are a collective of thousands of Ecuadorians representing the entire nation and the Indigenous and Campesino communities that form its soul.
As you may be aware, Ecuador´s government has granted more than 500 new mining concessions in the last two years with the short-sighted plan of replacing dwindling petroleum revenue with industrial mining revenue. This is almost 15% of our national territory. Australian transnational mining companies now hold dozens of these new concessions.
Ecuador holds large copper deposits as well as gold, cadmium, and other valuable metals. Unfortunately, these deposits are on both flanks of the Andes mostly between 2500 and 1000 meters and underlap millions of hectares of primary montane, cloud, and low-land tropical forests. These forests are part of the upper Amazon Basin and the Tropical Andes/Tumbés-Chocó Magdalena biodiversity hotspots and contain some of the highest biodiversity levels and the documented highest levels of endemic species in the world.
For more detailed analysis of how industrial mining by Australian companies would affect this incredible biodiversity please review the following study:
The proposed, giant, open-pit mines will destroy these forests, jump start localized desertification, displace thousands of people and hundreds of campesino and indigenous communities, contaminate surface and ground water with heavy metals for generations, and drastically affect food security and local economic sustainability.
It is imperative for the Australian public in general, to understand the gravity of the threats Australian mining companies pose to our economic, cultural, biological and social well being. For example, BHP's (the world’s largest mining company with dozens of concessionary holdings in Ecuador) stated environmental policy reads very good on paper, but on the ground here in Ecuador, the story is very different. Many of the company's concessions affect primary forests, pristine watersheds, and even protected forests despite BHP’s declared policy of not mining in areas where endangered species can be affected. Not all the greenwashing in the world will be able to conceal this indisputable truth.
Besides the environmental nightmare Australian mining projects pose to Ecuador, another crucial aspect Australians should be aware of is that not one Australian mining project is in compliance with article 398 of Ecuador's Constitution: the right of communities to prior consultation regarding non-renewable resource extraction. Nor is it in any way compatible with the small farming, ecological tourism, and ancient traditions that characterizes most of the Indigenous and campesino communities now living within these illegal and unconstitutional concessions.
If that weren't enough, many Australian concessionary holdings overlap Indigenous ancestral lands and protected community and ecological reserves - in direct violation of Ecuadorś environmental laws.
Although Ecuador’s Mining Ministry tries to sell itself as being respectful of human rights and constitutional guarantees for the local management of water resources, recent history contradicts this propaganda. We need not look further than the tragic and toxic environmental holocaust that has resulted from almost fifty years of transnational oil exploration in Ecuador’s Amazon to understand our government’s true commitment to human and environmental rights. The grift and blatant corruption that characterized Ecuador’s oil boom is, if anything, more entrenched than ever today.
It is important for Australians to know what is happening here on the ground, every day:
Our government continues to send military police to mining areas to impose martial law and violence on peaceful protestors insisting on their constitutional rights.
Protectors of the forest and water continue to be illegally jailed with no due process.
Local governments continue to accept bribes from mining companies and sell out the future of their constituents.
Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry continues to rubber-stamp falsified environmental impact studies that allow mining companies to start exploration.
It becomes increasingly apparent that we cannot count on the human, judiciary, or environmental rights guaranteed by our constitution.
In light of this reality, we must appeal to the conscience of the Australian people to help us prevent what could prove to be the biggest environmental disaster the world has yet seen.
In closing, we sincerely hope that your actions will help arouse the concerns of Australians about the threats that Australian mining companies pose to our communities, our environment and our way of life. We ask that you transmit our concerns to the Australian government, as well as the management and investors of the companies listed above, who could be directly responsible for supporting and funding yet another unimaginable environmental tragedy.
Who we are CAMINANTES:
Comunidad Indígena Amazónica de Acción Social Cordillera del Cóndor (CASCOMI – Zamora Chinchipe)
Asociación Shuar Bomboiza (Morona Santiago)
Comunidad A’i Cofan SINANGOE (Sucumbíos)
Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Íntag (DECOIN)
Asamblea de la Unidad Cantonal de Cotacachi (Imbabura)
Bosque Protector Los Cedros (Imbabura)
Comité en Defensa de la Vida y los Derechos de la Naturaleza (parroquias Palo Quemado y las Pampas - Cotopaxi)
Parroquias Chical y Maldonado (Carchi)
Coordinadora Cantonal por la Defensa de la Vida, el Agua y la Naturaleza (Cantón Pallatanga-Chimborazo)
Mancomunidad de la Bioregión del Chocó Andino (Calacalí, Nono, Nanegal, Nanegalito, Pacto, Gualea y Mindo - Pichincha)
Sistema Comunitario de Agua de Girón (Azuay)
Frente Provincial por la Defensa de la Pachamama y la Vida (Bolívar) Federación de Centros Awá del Ecuador y la Gran Familia Awá Binacional Red de Coordinadora de Organizaciones Sociales del Norte (REDCONE-Esmeraldas)
Federación Indígena y Campesina de Imbabura (FICI)
Federación de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas del Azuay (FOA)
Frente de Defensa del Noroccidente de Pichincha
Asamblea de los Pueblos del Sur (APS)
Confederación Kichwa del Ecuador (ECUARUNARI)
Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) Observatorio Minero Social y Ambiental del Ecuador (OMASNE)
Colectivo de Geografía Crítica Ecuador
Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU)
Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones para la Defensa del Ambiente y la Naturaleza (CEDENMA)
Pocho Álvarez (cineasta y documentalista)
Fred Larreátegui (abogado)