The decision handed down by Ecuador’s Constitutional Court (CC) late last year to kick Cornerstone Capital and the State mining company ENAMI out of its Rio Magdalena concession due to its disregard for the country’s constitution saw local authorities talk of a “domino effect”, as the precedent set may bring about reversals for other controversial mining concessions and projects.
The coordinator for the northern zone of the Ministry of Energy, Mauricio Almeida, warned that the Constitutional Court decision could have a domino effect. “The people could demand a protection order against the mining company in the Cerro Golondrinas protected forest, justifying that the court stopped extractive activity in Los Cedros”, said Almeida.
We now have a wobbly domino, but it’s not Cerro Golondrinas, not yet at least (that case is pending). The Ecuador mining community doesn’t want the wider world to know about the court case happening this week in the Imbabura region of Ecuador in which, over the last three days, locals opposed to the highly controversial Llurimagua project (once called Intag) run in JV by Chile’s Codelco and Ecuador’s ENAMI are asking the regional Consejo de la Judicatura courtroom (it’s complicated, but this court is best understood in layman’s terms as the layer of Ecuador’s judiciary below the national CC) using the precedent set last year to annul the concession and mining project. Llurimagua has been a bone of contention between national government and local opposition for coming on three decades, the same concession once owned by the disgusting Canadian junior Ascendant Copper. The Intag locals refused to have the project foisted on them 20 years ago, refused to submit when Rafael Correa strong-armed Codelco into the location and that opposition has never wilted, so armed now with legal precedent to say “You never asked us and that’s illegal“, the case has quickly come to court. Even more interesting, the pro-mining government of Guillermo Lasso is taking this case very seriously and sent a team of high-powered lawyers to argue for government, trying all legal angles and cross-examining the experts presented by the locals, all in an effort undermine their collective authority.
If locals win their case this week, the government will surely appeal the decision and, like Rio Magdalena before, it then gets sent up the the national CC. However, it’s going to be tough to keep the news from the world if locals win this week and, once at CC level, the ruling handed down becomes unappealable.