In December of 2009, representatives from Hidroequinoccio S.A., the State Company that administers the Guayllabamba hydroelectric projects made public in the town of Sahuangal that the 2 dam projects closest to Quito will not be built; Sahuangal que los 2 proyectos de represas más cercanas a Quito no se van a construir; instead, they will build water purification plants to improve water quality sufficiently that it will be appropriate for the downstream projects.  In January 2010, Hidroequinoccio functionaries reported that one of the other sites has been eliminated as inappropriate, for technical reasons. Studies of the final four sites -Chirapi and Manduriacu (Pacto, Pichincha) and Tortugo and Llurimaguas (García Moreno, Imbabura) began in mid-January 2010 and studies of the four intermediate sites continue.
HIDROEQUINOCCIO’s website

Ecuadorian energy officials named Hyundai Engineering Co. Ltd. the highest ranking bidder of seven groups that submitted proposals to perform studies and detailed design of the 4,000-MW Zamora hydroelectric complex on Ecuador’s Zamora and Namangoza rivers.

The office of Ecuador President Rafael Correa previously said a proposal by Hyundai Engineering and SNC-Lavalin International of Canada was one of the seven bids received. Ecuador’s Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy called Zamora the largest and most important hydroelectric development in Ecuador.

Although officials have not said when the contract would be formally awarded, press reports of a meeting between Correa and a visiting South Korean business delegation quoted Ecuador officials saying Hyundai had won the competition.

Reports from that delegation meeting also said Korea Electric Power Corp. is negotiating to develop the 100-MW Chontal and 280-MW Villadora hydroelectric projects, which are among 11 projects proposed for Ecuador’s Guayllabamba River complex.

Hyundai received 81.11 points in the Zamora competition, compared to 76.39 points for a runner-up consortium of Coyne et Bellier and Pietrangeli of France and Italy, Business News Americas reported. The contract has a reference price of US$29.5 million, with 720 days to complete the work.

The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy called for technical and economic pre-feasibility and feasibility studies as well as detailed design of the Zamora complex (Lower Course), which could include 20 hydroelectric projects.

The ministry previously said the studies initially would focus on the most  important project in the complex, the 1,200-MW San Juan Bosco hydro project. The consultant is to perform additional geological, geophysical, and geotechnical studies of the San Juan Bosco site.

Once the San Juan Bosco site is established, a pre-feasibility study is planned between it and the confluence of the Zamora and Namangoza rivers outlining technical and economic aspects of the functioning of the hydraulic system as a whole.

“The TCA Association, conformed by the Caminosca (Ecuador) and TRACTEBEL (France) companies, obtained first place in order of preference once the technical and economic evaluation of the bids was complete and the negotiation phase concluded according to a notification document from HidroEquinoccio S.A.,  dated October 19, 2009, with the award of the contract in merit of its fulfillment of all the specifications and technical, financial and legal requirements demanded in the Bids.”

Effective around the middle of January, according to sources in HidroEquinoccio, S.A. –the Company (now a State Company) which administers the mega-hydroelectric project along the length of the Guayllabamba River from Quito to Llurimaguas- the TCA will begin their technical studies and those of environmental and social impacts of the hydroelectric projects Chirapi y Manduriacu, which are located in the watershed  of the lower Guayllabamba River, within Pacto Parish, County Quito, Pichincha Province, Republic of Ecuador. There are also people working now at the Tortugo y Llurimaguas sites downstream.

Dear Friends and Companions,
In the name of all the communities northwestern Pichincha, we write to thank you for your help and support in broadcasting news of the attack on the Miranda brothers (August 12th) by paramilitary miners. We beg you to continue supporting the news broadcast of these illegal acts against country dwellers and that you help us in the legal battle to come. As some of you already know, the intellectual authors of this crime (owners of the mining concession and their renters) are free and cheerful, ready to send more killers to shoot at those of us who live in the countryside.
In our face, Ulbio Moncayo (title-holder of the Cholupe concession) was freed hours after having been arrested in possession of cartridges of dynamite, in plain sight and patience of the authorities, despite their knowing that two people were assaulted with  machine-gun shots. Mr. Ulbio Moncayo was not even investigated, and with the help of one Concejal Macas, was released by the attorney general of Pedro Vicente Maldonado.
Moreover, one of the suspects in the assault against the Miranda brothers, is Mrs. Darlinda Duran -the same who impudently lied and filed an accusation of kidnapping her against “an ecologist man” (she doesn’t have the decency to name names) which is a vile lie, and the attorney general of Pedro Vicente signed this accusation. Isn’t that crazy?!!!
        
The same day, Wednesday the 13th of August 2008, after the incident with Mr. Miner Ulbio Moncayo, some of us entered the Km 90 road towards the illegal mining operation, sited forcibly on the lands of the grandfather of the youths who had been attacked. We asked for the support of the police of Los Bancos, Pedro Vicente Maldonado, Nanegalito, and Nanegal, and nonetheless not one police officer was able to come with us into the site, where the paramilitaries were armed to the teeth and waiting for us to appear to turn us around. By luck, and thanks to a good deed by a good Samaritan, we contacted the Judicial Police in Quito (GIR), and they sent a special group in the night which, together with community members armed with their hunting shotguns, captured four heavily-armed criminals in possession of submachine guns, a Mauser rifle, drugs, cell phones and money in cash.
As we advanced in the night we could hear the crossfire of bullets on the mountain. We walked approximately 9 hours in the darkness through the mud, without stopping, until we met with our other companions who had entered through Pacto, together with the special police group. The arrested ones went walking amidst the indignant shouts of the relatives of the youths who had been shot at the day before, and transferred on shoulders along that same path to a hospital.
Companions, the struggle continues! On Tuesday (August 19th) we will be in Quito with the relatives of the Miranda brothers, making declarations to communications media, so that this does not go unpunished.  Once again, many thanks for your help and let’s continue the struggle in defense of our lives.
PS: We propose a meeting among all the organizations, in NW Pichincha or in Intag, with the purpose of tracing joint defense strategies.
Here are two addresses where you can see images of the conflict with the “paramilitary miners” who attacked us:
Companions, we need to support one another en masse to help the affected campesinos continue with the lawsuits. Remember that now it is our neighbors, tomorrow it will be us. Let’s help them out. We need a “kitty” to pay for lawyers to follow the legal processes to order the bullies away from us.
            
CODECONO

At the end of June, 2008, Avalanche Minerals, Ltd., changed its name to OroAndes Resource Corporation, and launched a new website with information on another mining project that they are pursuing in Colombia.  Their new web site is posted on the sidebar.

The following is a press bulletin sent to the media about the results of a meeting in Los Bancos on June 6, 2008

 

Press Release: SAN MIGUEL DE LOS BANCOS RESOLVES TO OPPOSE MINING IN THE REGION

 

Today, in the presence of the mayors of three municipalities of northwestern Pichincha province, it was declared that northwestern Pichincha will be a mining-free zone. During the event, a letter was read from a member of the Constitutional Assembly, Martha Roldos, who was not able to participate in the forum due to inescapable commitments in the Assembly. In it, she acknowledged the resolution by the municipal administration that prohibits mining in the municipality of San Miguel de Los Bancos, with the exception of mining for sand and rocks for cement.

 

The residents of Los Bancos were informed of the negative effects that mining activity would bring, particularly the irreversible contamination of water sources, the loss of local vegetation, and of the social conflicts that have arisen as a result of mining in the Choco Andino, one of the 5 most biodiverse zones on the planet, of which Northwestern Pichincha Province is a part. 
 The event wrapped up by securing the commitment of other mayors in the region to organize similar informative forums with their respective populations.

 

The anti-mining resolution was supported by members of environmental, social, and community organizations, and by the inhabitants of Los Bancos. The concern and astonishment of the residents, who worried that the exuberance of the zone could be transformed into a devastated territory, was widely noted.

 

Coordinator for the Defence and Conservation of Nothwestern Pichincha CODECONO

http://www.northernminer.com/issues/ISArticle.asp?id=85699&issue=06132008&ref=rss

Daily News Friday, June 13, 2008

Ecuador update: many questions, a few answers

Vancouver – On June 9th, fifty-two days after a mining mandate in
Ecuador suspended all mining activity while the government drafts new
mining legislation, the government began transferring the country’s
mining concessions to the state.
The move, entirely expected as part of the new law, has been one of
few clarities to surface about what the new law will mean for foreign
companies working in the small South American country. The mandate of
April 18th, supported by an overwhelming majority in the
constitutional assembly, cancelled 88% of all concessions, limited
companies’ holdings to a maximum of three concessions, and suspended
mining activity for 180 days. Since then, little else has been
disclosed.
Lawyer Raul de la Torre, partner in the leading Ecuadorian law firm
Perez, Bustamante & Ponce, has been following the situation from
within the country and in a recent article in LatinLawyer he outlined
what he’s managed to discern so far.
Torre writes that administrative charges will increase to US$100 per
mining hectare. It is unclear whether this refers to a one-time fee
or an annual charge. Either way it’s a considerable cost – Aurelian
Resources’ (ARU-T, AUREF-O) 95,152 mining hectares would cost the
company US$9.5 million per payment, for example. Dynasty Metals &
Mining (DMM-T, DMMIF-O) is in a similar position, holding 96,900
hectares that could cost US$9.7 million.
A second new piece of insight from Torre is that the new law will
include a 3% to 5% royalty. He describes the royalty as “payment to
the state for exploitation of mineral resources.” Whether the tax
would be a net smelter royalty or take another form is not clear.
Thirdly, Torres writes “any environmental damage from a mining
concession would be cited as cause for contract termination.” Since
mining damages the environment by its very nature, this clause could
give the government wide-ranging power to cancel mining rights and
thereby take back deposits.
In addition, the role of the state mining company being created under
the law is still a subject of great debate. Torres says the national
company will oversee development of any projects reserved for the
state. The question is which those projects will be.
One of the members of the national assembly who introduced the bill,
Betty Tola, said in the past that the new entity would hold the
concessions invalidated through the April mandate. That mandate
declared all mining concessions in which there had been no
exploration investment before the end of 2007 invalid. Similarly, any
concessions for which no environmental impact assessment had been
submitted by the end of 2007 were declared extinct as well as any
concessions within natural protected areas. Finally, any concessions
carrying unpaid fees were invalidated. There is to be no compensation
for cancelled concessions.
Concessions in those categories add up to 88% of the country’s issued
mining concessions. Until recently, however, the government had not
formerly seized invalidated claims. According to Torre, the process
of transferring invalid claims into the new national mining company
has now begun.
While that process sounds dire, in an April interview with Dow Jones
Newswires Ecuadorian Mines and Oil Minister Galo Chiriboga rejected
the notion of the new national mining company interfering with
projects currently held by foreign companies. He indicated that the
state-run company would focus on industrial mining, that is mining
matter for construction materials such as cement.
The three-concession limit remains another very significant point of
confusion. The mandate officially limited any one person or company
to holding only three mining concessions. Chiriboga has since
suggested that this limit could be raised.
The limit could disable many foreign companies from proceeding with
their projects. Dynasty was slated to take its Zaruma gold project
into production at the beginning of July; the 180-day mining
moratorium delayed that, of course, but the three-concession limit
could halt it permanently. Dynasty holds 125 concessions in Ecuador.
Along the same lines, Corriente Resources (CTQ-T, ETQ-X) holds some
two dozen concessions in the country, with its 25 billion lbs. of
copper resource spread out among them.
Aurelian’s Fruta del Norte deposit is, luckily, situated on a single
concession. That being said, the company holds 39 concessions in the
area so as to control the possible deposit extensions.
The questions are still far more plentiful than the answers but
Torre’s insight gives a window into the law under development. All
should become clear when the new law is published on June 27.