The Ecuadorian Constitutional Court had halted the Panantza-San Carlos mining project in a ruling that favored an indigenous community’s rights to choose which activities can happen on their territories.
About Panantza-San Carlos mining project
- The Panantza-San Carlos copper mining project is an open pit mine spanning 38,548 hectares of land in the southern Ecuadorian Amazon.
- This 3 billion USD project was expected to generate some 40 billion USD in export revenue of the next decade.
- This project was funded by the Chinese mining company ExplorCobres SA.
- It was part of the Ecuadorian government’s push to become Andean mining power rivaling countries like Chile and Peru.
- Due to this project, indigenous people were forcefully evicted and displaced from their homes in Nankints.
- It was opposed by the Shuar Arutam people, who held that they were not consulted properly by the government to implement this project.
- Some 70 per cent of the Shuar Arutam people’s territory is under concession for this project. This will impact 47 community centers and some 1,200 families.
- Zamora River and the Coangos River – the tributaries of Santiago River – cross part of this project. They are at a risk of contamination because of this project.
What is the court’s ruling?
The Ecuador court ruled in favour of the Shuar Arutam people against the government’s granting of the environmental license for the Panantza-San Carlos mining project without consulting the affected communities. It held that the permit for this project violated the collective right to Free, Prior and Informed consultation of the Shuar indigenous people. The court recognized that it violated the legally-guaranteed rights of the indigenous people to be consulted by authorities in any projects that jeopardises their environmental and cultural interests. The court also ruled that the socialization techniques used by the ExplorCobres SA to promote this project is not equivalent to consultation.