Ecuador says mining could become third-biggest export by 2025

Mirador copper mine, in the southeastern Zamora-Chinchipe province, has reserves estimated 3.2 million tonnes of the red metal. (Image courtesy of EcuaCorriente SA)

Ecuador expects to generate over $4 billion in annual mining exports by 2025, its mines and energy ministry said on Friday, estimating the industry could become the South American nation’s third best-selling sector for shipments abroad.

Despite its abundant mineral reserves, Ecuador has lagged behind other Andean countries such as Peru and Chile in developing large-scale mining due to opposition from indigenous communities and adverse court rulings.

Vice minister Alvaro Ordonez said in a statement that following this year’s growth that by 2025 mining exports could make up 15% of the country’s total shipments abroad, making this the country’s third most important export after oil and shrimp.

Copper and gold are the country’s most important mining exports, which are shipped mainly to China, Switzerland and the United States.

In the first 10 months of this year, Ecuador’s mining exports generated some $2.31 billion, up 42.2% from the same period last year. This made up 86% of the country’s $2.673 billion target for 2022, Ordonez added.

The figures include sales from the Mirador copper mine, owned by EcuaCorriente, a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan Investment, and gold exports from Canada’s Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte, as well as small-scale mining.

The government expects four major mining projects will begin operations by the end of President Guillermo Lasso’s term in 2025, including the Cascabel project, held by Australia’s SolGold.

(By Alexandra Valencia; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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