Codelco loses environmental licence for Ecuador copper project

The Llurimagua copper project, in the northern Ecuador Imbabura Province, is in the advanced exploration stage. (Image courtesy of Enami EP | Twitter.)

A provincial appeals court in Ecuador has stripped Codelco and local joint venture partner Enami of its environmental license for the Llurimagua copper project, according to a ruling published Wednesday.

Plaintiffs from the nearby Intag Valley, who have opposed mining development since the 1990s in defense of animal species like the spectacled bear, had filed a constitutional injunction alleging a violation of their right to be consulted.

The Ibarra court agreed, revoking the license granted by the environment ministry in 2014 and ordering Enami to provide a new environmental impact study and management plan for advanced exploration as a precondition for resuming work. Conditions include consultation with the affected community.

To be sure, the court didn’t strip the partners of their mining title. The decision overturns a February ruling by a lower court in Cotachi. The Llurimagua project has also been delayed by a dispute between its Chilean and Ecuadorian shareholders.

(By Stephan Kueffner)


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