Things are beginning to move in Ecuador concerning the mining law. There are quite a few bases to cover, so here we go with bullet points:
- The report that will be used as the base for the second assembly debate is handed over to the parliamentarians tomorrow. We can expect the debate next week. Remember, if it gets through the debate next week (and there’s little reason why it shouldn’t) then it becomes law.
- The law is now very likely to be non-organic. This means that other laws can be applied to the mining sphere and may complicate matters for some. In the case of my preferred vehicle Dynasty (DMM.to) there’s nothing to be worried about (there…I’ve stuck my neck out on this).
- Over the last two days, enviro protestors have been protesting in the southern districts. Things turned a bit nasty yesterday and the protests got violent. In total 12 police were reported injured in clashes and one police medic was taken hostage by the protestors. The hostage was apparently taken to use as a bargaining chip to get arrested colleagues out of jail. The medic dude is in no danger here, it should be stressed.
- Protests are continuing this morning but less vociferous. The gov’t has shipped an extra 140 police into the area and schools etc are open as normal for the first time this week (70% attendance rates reported).
- Indigenous umbrella group CONAIE (national executive) has not been directly involved in these protests but yesterday expressed their support and called on the law to be delayed and for a national debate. It should be pointed out that CONAIE has used the same tactic in previous moments and the government has always replied that the consultation process before the proposed law was published was extensive and thorough. CONAIE also made their usual anti-transnational (i.e. gringo) noises.
- Meanwhile this link takes you to a report of the visit to parliament by Paúl Petsain, president of the Shuar Arutam people from the Cordillera del Condor region (where the DMM, K, CTQ etc etc projects are located). He expressed his support for the mining law, disagreed with the CONAIE-backed protests and is happy that minor changes are being added to the second debate paper (mainly about artisan mining support proceses). Run the Spanish language link above through Google translator; a very interesting and positive article. I remind you that the indigenous voices closest to any mining project are the most important, with the larger national executive’s position being less important. This may seem counterintuitive to some, but it’s the way it is.
The bottom line here is optimistic; the protests from enviro-group locals are bound to continue during this week and next but they will not affect the passage of the law. The date is all but set for the second debate and once that happens we’ll basically have our active law. It looks like DMM.to’s prediction of commissioning at the end of March is going to come true.