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Arsonists attack Ecuagoldmining’s camp in Ecuador

Arsonist attack at the Río Blanco gold-silver project on October 4, 2019. (Image by Ecuagoldmining South America).

A campsite at the Río Blanco gold-silver project in southern Ecuador was set on fire this weekend by what operator Ecuagoldmining South America deems ‘terrorist attackers.’ 

According to the company, which is owned by Chinese investment firm Junefield Group S.A., the attackers took advantage of the surrounding chaos caused by a national strike action and forced their way into the camp carrying high-caliber guns. Once inside, they threatened security personnel and burnt a truck, tents and other items. Then, they ran away.  

“This attack was carried out by groups that oppose responsible mining, who have been completely identified,” Ecuagoldmining said in a media statement. “Once again, we reject the terrorist attacks our project has been subjected to on multiple occasions.”

The miner goes on to say that management hopes that “this time around” authorities do something so that this kind of vandalism doesn’t go unpunished.

In May 2018, Río Blanco’s site was also attacked by arsonists. In the view of the Asian firm, that initial incident set a disastrous precedent for the mining industry and foreign investments in Ecuador.

The project, whose development started in the early 2000s, has been controversial from the get-go, with anti-mining groups protesting in its surroundings and causing activity halts and Indigenous groups challenging the validity of Ecuagoldmining’s consultation process and environmental permits. 

The company, however, has said that its operations comply with the highest environmental standards, particularly considering that out of the almost 5,000 hectares the project occupies, mining activities only take place in 40 hectares or less than 1% of the concession. 

Located in between the towns of Molleturo and Chaucha in the Azuay province, Río Blanco is expected to produce 605,000 ounces of gold and 4.3 million ounces of silver through its 11-year mine life.