Solaris strikes deal with Ecuadorian Indigenous organization, other groups complain

Warintza project area. (Image by Solaris Resources, Facebook.)

Vancouver-based Solaris Resources (TSX: SLS) announced a trilateral cooperation agreement with the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centers (FICSH) and Ecuador’s Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

FICSH is the highest authority and largest Shuar Indigenous organization. It was legally established in 1964 and includes 50 associations comprising 500 Shuar communities and approximately 143,000 Shuar Indigenous people.

The Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, on the other hand, is a network of public, private and academic actors that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation throughout Ecuador.

The agreement between these two organizations and Solaris was signed during a ceremony that took place in the context of the convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), happening this week in Toronto. 

According to the miner, the deal aims to promote the economic and social development of Shuar communities represented by FICSH, including the communities of Warints and Yawi which host the Warintza copper-gold project on their lands, situated in the southeastern part of the Andean country. 

The proposed alliance aims to create projects that support the provision of medical services in remote communities, as well as initiatives focused on the development and delivery of intercultural education. It also proposes the provision of training and technical assistance related to productive agricultural and business development, project management and accounting, and training and support for the formalization of artisanal mining in FICSH territories.

“The Shuar communities of Warints and Yawi support this agreement which follows from our request for FICSH to represent us and our interests and extend benefits to other member communities,” Froilan Juank, president of Yawi Center and member of the Board of Directors of the Strategic Alliance, said in a media statement.

“We reject the false statements made by foreign non-governmental organizations and the Shuar Arutam People’s Associations (PSHA) which ignore our voice and speak against our interests. We are the legitimate registered owners of the Ancestral Lands on which the Warintza project resides and we have the right and have chosen, through our General Assembly, to participate in the project through our Strategic Alliance and Impact and Benefits Agreement.”

Juank’s words refer to a complaint against Solaris presented by the PSHA, MiningWatch Canadá y Amazon Watch before the British Columbia Securities Commission on February 29, 2024, which states that the miner has moved forward with the Warintza project, which overlaps Shuar Arutam-titled territory, despite the community’s opposition.

“The PSHA is part of the ancestral Shuar nationality, made up of 47 centers, comprising six associations, in which approximately 12,000 people live. The PSHA was formally recognized by the Ecuadorian government as a collective organization representing the 47 centers, including those in the area of direct influence of the Warintza project,” the complaint reads.

“However, the presence of companies and mining projects in its titled territory, such as the Warintza project managed by Solaris and its subsidiary, Lowell Minerals Exploration Ecuador S.A., lack explicit consultation by the PSHA. For this reason, the PSHA maintains a firm stance against mining in its territories, opposing Solaris’ Warintza project.”

Warintza and the Shuar lands are located in the Cordillera del Condor, in an area of the Ecuadorian Amazon that borders Peru. The region is famous for its rare species and large gold and copper deposits.