While the entire nation has been busy watching COVID-19 infection rates and the tumbling economy, it seems mining companies have been eyeing Ecuador with an intent to expand drilling throughout the nation.
In reviewing investor relations press announcements for the last month, The Cuenca Dispatch has learned that several mining companies are expanding their operations in the country.
On May 11, 2020, Cornerstone Capital Resources announced that Field work at it Bramaderos mine would resume under strict operating procedures to responsibly manage the risks associated with COVID-19.The Bramaderos mine is located in Loja province, west of the town of Catacocha.
Initial field work comprised ongoing sampling of the first trench at the Espiritu epithermal gold vein. The first sampling of this trench commenced in March 2020 but was stopped when field work was suspended on March 17, 2020, in response to Ecuador’s national lock down to manage the spread of COVID-19.
Sampling of the trench has resumed, and other trenches are being prepared and sampled.
On May 25, 2020, Aurania Resources announced that it has discovered a new source for more copper and gold drilling at its Lost Cities-Cutucu project that runs from northern Peru into Ecuador’s southeastern province of Morona-Santiago.
The company has registered a subsidiary in Peru and applied for 419 mineral concessions covering 413,200 hectares in the northern part of the country. Aurania said that although the concessions may not be granted for several months, management has already started a detailed review of existing data that is available from the Peruvian government.
With an interest in expandingdevelopment at its Fruta del Norte gold mine, Lundin Gold announced on May 26, 2020, that it had raised $50 million. Lundin had just achieved commercial production at the mine in February 2020.
The mine is located approximately 9km south-west of the village of San Antonio, in the Zamora-Chinchipe province Ecuador, and approximately 80km east-northeast of Loja.
On May 26, 2020, Titan Minerals, an Australian mining company, announced that it had acquired the assets of Core Gold Inc., who ceased its Ecuadorian operation in on May 20, 20120
On June 1, 2020, Titan Minerals then announced it was raising $14.5 million to “commence a high impact drilling campaign the Dynasty Gold Project it acquired from Core Gold. The Dynasty project consists of five mine concessions totaling 139 square kilometers in the Loja Province, near the town of Celica.
They also intend to use the funds to commence exploration activities at its Copper Duke Project, including airborne geophysical surveys for high resolution magnetic coverage and surface sampling programs. The Copper Duke project consists of 130 square kilometers and is near El Huato and Los Lianos.
A company at the center of an Ecuadorian legal challenge, INV Metals, has announced that it plans to “…continue to advance our permitting efforts for Loma Larga and are also focused on securing financing for Loma Larga as demonstrated by the recent filing of a preliminary base shelf prospectus.”
The Loma Larga project is located in Ecuador’s Azuay province, about 30 km southwest of Cuenca (18 km from San Geraldo). The project consists of three mining concessions (Cerro Casco, Rio Falso and Cristal) covering an area of approximately 8,000 hectares.
The company is also pursuing other exploration concessions in Ecuador, including Tierras Coloradas, La Rebuscada and Carolina.
[On February 21, 2020, the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court (the “Constitutional Court”) denied the request to hold a referendum related to future and present mining activities within Azuay province, which was presented for consideration to the Court on January 7, 2020.
The Constitutional Court denied the request stating the standards and criteria previously established by the Constitutional Court to hold a referendum regarding mining activities were not met in either of two questions that were analyzed.]
On June 17, 2020, Adventus Mining Corporation announced its plan to host a webinar on Thursday June 25, 2020, where they will outline their plans to extend their copper and gold drilling activities in Ecuador in theirCuripamba, Pijili and Santiago projects.
Adventus said the webinar would be open to the general public and that company management would be available during the presentation to answer questions. Anyone interested in finding out exactly how this drilling plan will effect Ecuador’s ecosystem can register for the webinar at: https://my.6ix.com/8K0chWwb
Ecuador partners with think tank to stop environmental crimes
While all of this mining activity continues to be a thorn in the side of Ecuadorians who are trying to stop what they see as destruction of the ecosystem of Ecuador, there has been headway on the country’s efforts to halt environmental and natural resource crimes.
On May 21, 2020, Global Financial Integrity (GFI), announced that it had signed a cooperation agreement with the Unidad de Análisis Financiero y Económico (UAFE), the Financial Intelligence Unit of Ecuador, to work together to combat corruption and illicit financial flows, with a special focus on environmental and natural resources crimes.
Tom Cardamone, President & CEO of GFI, said,“We are delighted to be working hand in hand with the UAFE team on these important issues. Money laundering and natural resource crimes are ubiquitous, but each country has its own unique experience with them. We’re looking forward to bringing our skills to the task and learning from our dedicated Ecuadorian partners.”
The two-year agreement establishes cooperation mechanisms for providing technical assistance and training to seek pragmatic solutions to problems such as the fight against corruption and organized crime, money laundering and terrorism financing.
Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, that produces analyses of illicit financial flows, advising developing country governments on effective policy solutions as a means to global development and security.
Mining and Ecuador finances
According to government officials, by 2021, the mining industry could represent up to 4% of Ecuador’s GDP, up from 1.6% in 2018.
[These figures were compiled in late 2019, prior to the economic impact faced from the COVID-19 health emergency. When factoring in the impact the virus had on the economy, the mining industry will likely represent far more than 4% of the 2021 GDP.]