Ecuador set to revoke thousands of mining concessions

QUITO, April 17, 2008 (AFP) – President Rafael Correa said Thursday Ecuador was close to revoking some 4,000 mining concessions granted since 2004, many of them to US and Canadian companies, that have been idle and used solely for speculation. A government-sponsored bill revoking about 80 percent of mining concessions in gold, silver and limestone deposits around the country will be voted on and likely approved in the next few days by the Constitutional Assembly, which is packed by Correa supporters.

While a list of the mining companies affected was not made available, it reportedly includes Canadian firms Ascendant Copper, Ecsa, Cornerstone, I Am Gold, Aurelian Resources and Dynasty Metal, as well as the US concern Lowell.

The bill is opposed by the Mining Chamber of Ecuador. One of its members, ECSA company, said through a spokesman the measure “puts the best salaries of the country at risk.”

Another Chamber member said some 1,200 jobs were in jeopardy under the new regime that will likely slash some two billion dollars of investment in the sector over the next two years.

Correa said mining concessions made in 2004 under his predecessor Alfredo Palacios were granted improperly because local populations were not consulted.