Support our Struggle in Intag Against Mining

All too often, environmental struggles must be carried out in response to projects already well undertaken, where often million of dollars have already been designated or spent, and thus, the wheels of destruction much more difficult to stop. This is an unfortunate classic scenario in many environmental struggles, one that makes it a much harder, and dangerous, fight for the communities and organizations on the ground.

Once approved and given the go ahead for development, governments will feel tremendous political and economic pressures not to force corporations to divest of such projects, for fear of being taken to court by the corporations to recoup loss of investments, and of potential, or real income of the cancelled projects. Also, the fear of the countries being classified as a bad place to do business is intensified, and in the case that such projects are important contributors to the coffers of the state, governments will do all within their means, legal or otherwise, to resist losing such revenues.

In the case of the Junin-Cordillera del Toisán mining project in the Intag area of northwest Ecuador, we are in a very good position to act now, before mining projects are proposed to the government of Ecuador, or corporations began to invest money to develop the mines.

We know that there are great quantities of copper and molybdenum, plus other minerals, beneath the primary cloud forests and pristine rivers and streams of the Junin area, and all along the Toisán Range. We also know, thanks to the environmental impact study for the project, that it is economically feasible to mine in this area. The development of the mine would devastate thousands of hectares of some of the most biodiverse forests in the world, and impact 28 threatened species of mammals and birds. The mines would cause 4 communities and hundreds of families to be relocated, in addition to contaminating rivers with lead, arsenic, chrome, copper and cadmium. As you recall, this information was made public as part of an Ecuadorian-Japanese exploratory mining project, carried out by Bishimetals, a Mitsubishi subsididary (now Mitsubishi Materials). We are also aware that the interests of the government to develop mining in Junin and the Toisán has not waned, in light of the auction of the Junin Mining concession in July of this year by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. It is, in fact, the sale of the concession, that prompts us now to take action.

For those who may not know the history of the environmental struggle here in Intag, in May of 1997 many communities around the mining area, together with Decoin, and with support from national and international organizations, forced the early termination of the Junin mining project, preventing the miners from finishing exploring the area. But the struggle to keep mining from despoiling our communities, rivers and forests, will continue as long as the governments of Ecuador and transnationals mining continue to want to implement non-sustainable projects over the desires of local populations. (see for more details).

Aware of the great difficulties of trying to stop massive economic projects once started, such as the Junin-Toisán mining project, we are urging you to please help us NOW, to implement strategies that will contribute to keep our land free of mining.

Your contributions will make it possible to:

1. Strengthen and consolidate opposition to mining at the community level, by funding intense environmental and anti mining educational campaigns in 30 communities along the Toisán Range and nearby areas. Part of this program includes working closely with local governments to strengthen, or create where necessary, opposition to mining at this very important level.
2. Pay for legal expenses to try and use all legal mechanisms to stop mining in Intag, including implementing the Cotacachi County Ecological Ordinance that we (Decoin) helped get approved. In applying the Ecological Ordinance, we also hope to create a legal precedent for the rest of the country to pave the way for local governments to legally keep mining off their counties.

We hope that we can count on you help us to keep our communities free of mining; now, while we still have a chance. Please see below how you can make your contributions.

Thank you,

Carlos Zorrilla
Defensa y Conservación Ecológica de Intag
Po Box 144
Otavalo, Imbabura
593 6 648 593

Your donations can be made to our treasurer via personal check:
Silvia Quilumbango/Decoin to the address above. Or through wire transfer. Please contact me when doing either (Carlos Zorrilla

Thank you.