Adventus and Salazar welcome go-ahead for Ecuador mine

Ecuador
TSX-listed Adventus Mining and its joint venture partner Salazar Resources may now advance their El Domo-Curopamba copper-gold project following ruling

According to its majority owner Adventus, El Domo-Curipamba is one of the highest grade and lowest capital intensity copper-gold projects not just in the Americas, but globally. In 2017, Adventus Mining Corporation entered into an agreement with Salazar Resources whereby Adventus would earn a majority interest in the Curipamba project located in central Ecuador by funding exploration and development expenditures of $25m over five years and meeting certain development obligations.

Environmental consultation 

On November 17 the two companies announced that the Constitutional Court of Ecuador had issued a ruling on the constitutionality of the May 2023 Presidential Decree 754. which modified Ecuador's environmental regulation of its environmental organic code to include detailed steps for carrying out the environmental consultation in accordance with international human rights instruments and guaranteed by article 398 of the Ecuadorian Constitution.

The consultation is a prerequisite for the issuance of environmental licences for all projects across all sectors in Ecuador (more than 170 of them, though not limited to the metals and mining sector) classified as medium and high impact, but also those classified as low impact in the case of mining. The Consultation seeks to ensure people in the impact areas are duly informed and consulted with regards to impacts, mitigations, and environmental management plans of the proposed projects.

According to Kimberley Brown of the environmental organisation Mongabay, earlier this year, violent clashes erupted between police and locals protesting about this project after outgoing President Guillermo Lasso passed Decree 745. The decree may fast-track consultations to green-light large-scale infrastructure projects, including the protested El Domo-Curipamba mine, set to be the country’s third large-scale mine, she said.

“Farmers say the mine will deplete and contaminate the local water sources they depend on for their crops and livelihoods. Other locals say the mine has already created needed jobs for the community, while the Ecuadorian government maintains that Curipamba will generate more than $3.6bn in mining exports in its first year of operation alone.

“In July, when the national indigenous movement CONAIE filed a motion against the decree with the Constitutional Court, the court immediately suspended the decree pending proper evaluation. This also suspended all projects dependent on environmental permits, like the El Domo-Curipamba mine, until the court makes a ruling on the matter.

“After heavy lobbying by the mining industry and by the Lasso administration, the court quickly picked up the case. On Sept. 18, it held an online hearing and listened to testimony from both supporters and opponents of the decree.

Fast-track mining projects 

Gabriela Manosalvas, the deputy minister of environment and water, said Decree 754 is misunderstood by the environmentalists and organisations currently speaking out against it. First, she said, it’s not true that Lasso is trying to fast-track mining projects, as the decree applies to all infrastructure projects, including hospitals and power plants. Of the 178 projects currently awaiting an environmental license, only three are mineral mines.”

Nevertheless, the Count's decision will allow the affected projects to resume their respective consultation processes by proceeding under the terms of the decree. These important projects span across all industries and sectors in Ecuador, which include but are not limited to hospitals, water treatment plants, roads, clean energy projects, as well as three mining related projects, including Adventus's El Domo-Curipamba project.

In addition to this flagship project, Adventus Mining is engaged in a country-wide exploration alliance in Ecuador, which has to date incorporated the Pijili and Santiago copper-gold porphyry projects. 

 

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