Ecuador Endangered

ECUADOR ENDANGERED is one of RIC's main campaigns, supporting rural and indigenous communities in Ecuador to resist and halt grand-scale mining concessions that have been secretly handed out by the government in several rounds since early 2017.

These concessions are a human rights and environmental catastrophe in the making. Over 2 million hectares (almost 13% of the country’s land mass as of 2019) are impacted, including some of the the most biodiverse landscapes on Earth. If even some of these mining projects go ahead, thousands of endangered species risk extinction.

Grassroots resistance in Ecuador has been strengthening steadily over the past year. Subsequently the international campaign has developed at a fast pace, responding as needed in support of community mobilisations and legal battles. RIC has been working through its partner group of dedicated volunteers, the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group, to execute research and create resources, build alliances and direct funds to where they are needed.

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Here are the latest campaign updates ...

JUNE 25 - Violence in Gina Rinehart's concession in the Íntag. At least 19 people were injured in a shoot-out between rival organised crime gangs of illegal miners in Hanrine's lucrative gold mining concession in northwestern Ecuador, less than 50 kms from Los Cedros. MRAG (the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group) has been monitoring and researching Australia's miners in Ecuador for over a year, and we know that this terrible news is frightening investors. We need to keep the pressure on these companies and remind investors that there is no way to regulate their activities in such fragile, socially disadvantaged and mega-biodiverse areas. Where there is mining, there will be violence, human rights atrocities and ecocide. See MRAG's newest report here.

JUNE 20 - WIN FOR LOS CEDROS! Finally, the sentence from the Regional Court of Imbabura at Ibarra is handed down: in favour of the Action for Protection for this iconic cloud-forest reserve, which has been under concession to Ecuador's National Mining Company, Cornerstone and BHP since 2017.
Judges rule: to declare violations of prior consultation of mining-impacted communities; to revoke the previous sentence of November 2018 in which the Action of Protection was discarded; and to force the Ministry of Environment and Water to publicise the ruling and formally apologise to the impacted communities.
Such a relief, and congratulations to all who have worked so hard on the frontline to bring this result through!
MAY 8 - SOME DEVASTATING NEWS FROM ECUADOR. The government installs a new mining policy, which will severely regulate and inhibit the prior consultation of communities who are in the way of mining projects. The policy 'seeks to weaken collective rights, such as the right to previous informed consultation, while relaxing regulations and adopting new economic incentives to attract mining investments. The results of these changes can only be more protests and resistance, and repression on the part of the government; not to mention widespread and permanent environmental degradation if the policy is successfully implemented'. 
Read the report from CEDHU (Ecuador’s Human Rights Commission): Spanish   English
We're preparing to create and support a legal fund for Ecuadorian frontline communities to effectively fight these new laws. 

MAY 2019 - CALL FOR SUPPORT: ‘Marrow of the Mountain’. Biologist, friend of RIC and long-time defender of Los Cedros, Roo Vandegrift, is working alongside an Ecuadorian and international team to produce a full-length documentary about the mining threats and community resistance in the iconic cloud forest regions of the country. This film is dedicated to the campaign and to the future of Ecuador’s biodiversity. You’ll see tantalising glimpses of Los Cedros in this trailerRIC aims to raise $10,000 towards this project. You can support through the EE crowdfund (above). 

APRIL 2019: MRAG (Melbourne Rainforest Action Group) has delivered funds and resources to the Intag region over the past month, enabling the local resistance against mining to be stepped up. As the locally driven Los Cedros campaign expands to take in other mining threats in the northwest region, the need for a central space to organise has become clear. Ecuador Endangered campaign funds have been allocated, alongside other donations, towards securing an office in the town of Ibarra. This will be used by feisty local environmental group, OMASNE. 

APRIL 27 2019: BIG WIN FOR THE WAORANI. The Waorani tribe of the Ecuadorian Amazon - who have been fighting to keep their lands free of oil exploitation for over fifty years - have managed to secure protection for 180,000 hectares of their territory after an epic court battle. This is the third major win for indigenous people in Ecuador against extractive industries in under nine months. While the government may appeal the court's decision, the Waorani's resistance is being joined by other indigenous nationalities, and local and international solidarity is strong. So let's celebrate - and ensure that the victory is lasting! Sign and share Amazon Frontlines' petition and news updates.

APRIL 26 2019: RIGHTS OF NATURE FOR JUNÍN? The national Ombudsman’s Office releases a report which declares the Junín Community Reserve, Intag, threatened by exploration for the Llurimagua gold mine, a ‘subject with rights.’ It says that if actions are not taken to suspend the gold-mining project based on the serious environmental threats it poses and violations that have already occurred, the Ombudsman will ‘take appropriate measures’ to protect human rights and the rights of nature within the region. This short, heart-warming video about the report and its effect on the local communities was released last week by local environmental defence group DECOIN. These are the voices from the ground in Ecuador: please listen and share!

APRIL 17-19 2019: LOS CEDROS CASE NEARS ITS FINAL RULING. Judges pay a 2 day visit to the Los Cedros and nearby communities. The majority of community members turned out in favour of protection of their drinking water and biodiversity. Elisa Levy, coordinator of the key local campaign group OMASNE, says: ‘We believe the judges are clear about the importance of preserving Los Cedros.’ 

MARCH 7 2019: Supporters of Los Cedros are heartened by a positive hearing at the Provincial Court of Imbabura, in Ibarra.

JANUARY 26 2019: DAMNING REPORT FOR LLURIMAGUA. Just a few kilometres northwest of Los Cedros, a major development has happened in the fight to stop the controversial Llurimagua mining project, which is being bankrolled by Chilean company Codelco alongside Ecuadorian state company ENAMI. A study was conducted by the Comptroller General on the viability and sustainability of the mine. The report of a special examination by the State General Comptroller is heard.  It found serious 'irregularities' in the conduction of the project, including environmental and human rights violations.

JANUARY 15 2019: MIRADOR LOSS. In Ecuador’s south, a provincial judge denied an action for protection against the infamous Mirador copper mine in Tundayme, southeastern Ecuador. Mirador has been the site of numerous serious human rights offences over recent years, including murders. Defendants lodged the action based on incidents of forced evictions, lack of adequate housing and clean water for those relocated, and violations of free, prior and informed consent. They have vowed to appeal the judge's decision.  

DECEMBER 15 2018 Having granted the Caminantes Collective (Ecuadorean civil society groups struggling to save these forests) $9000 a few months ago for their national campaign, RIC has now disbursed another $9000 raised in the Ecuador Endangered crowdfund to the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group. MRAG have been leading the charge internationally with their research and direct actions putting pressure on the Australian mining companies who hold the lions share of the contested mining concessions.

OCTOBER 20 2018  RIC are proud to  publish an important article by  Ecuadorian economist, Alberto  Acosta,  a  former Minister of Energy and Mines, former president of the Constituent Assembly and former candidate for the Presidency of the Republic of Ecuador"Río Blanco, Justice for The Rights of Nature" looks at the far-reaching implications of the August 3 court decision to suspend mining in Rio Blanco.

AUGUST 5 2018 This could be the game-changer we’ve been waiting for. A court in the Azuay Province of Ecuador has rejected the Government’s appeal and the Chinese-owned Rio Blanco gold mine has been stopped! See the excellent article about this issue  written last week before this historic decision.

JULY 16 2018 - Important article on the economic damage caused by the mining industry, written by Alberto Acosta Ecuadorian economist  former Minister of Energy and Mines. Former president of the Constituent Assembly. Former candidate for the Presidency of the Republic of Ecuador. ENGLISH.....  ESPAÑOL.

JULY 11 2018 We’re starting to bear down on the Aussie mining companies who have the lions share of the 2 million Ha of concessions we’re contesting in Ecuador. The newly reborn Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG) is doing fantastic work and  along with the Australian Student Environment Network, and Friends of the Earth, we paid BHP a little visit.   Photos


Check out MRAG's (Melbourne Rainforest Action Group) website here


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Like/Hashtag the campaign on Twitter: #EcuadorEndangered  #SaveLosCedros  #JusticiaLosCedros #MRAG

Our youtube channel is here (Short videos in English and Spanish). MRAG also has a youtube channel: here


John Seed’s March 2018 article summarising the campaign

Jefferson Mecham’s comprehensive paper Ecuador Endangered by Extreme Extractivism

Vandegrift et al (2017): The extent of recent mining concessions in Ecuador (pdf, english) (pdf, spanish)

Environmental Impact Study from early mining efforts in Junin (1996) (pdf)

Summary of tax and legal deregulations for mining made during Correa administration (Carlos Zorrilla, 2017) (pdf)

New mining concessions will severely decrease biodiversity and ecosystem services in Ecuador (Bitty Roy et al 2018)


Our involvement with this campaign stemmed from our efforts to protect the Los Cedros Biological Reserve, one of over 40 mega-biodiverse protected forests (Bosques Protectores) currently threatened by mining concessions. RIC has been a stalwart support of Los Cedros since allocating the funds and helping establish the reserve in 1989. Many of the volunteers currently forming the backbone of the campaign are local and international activists and scientists who have been involved with the protection of Los Cedros over many years. For more background see RIC's 2016 Los Cedros update, created when the mining threat had only just been discovered.

Letter from world scientists attesting to the biological value of Los Cedros

Los Cedros species lists from Bitty Roy, professor of Ecology, University of Oregon

List of Publications from research undertaken at Los Cedros

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  • Greer Hart
    commented 2019-02-10 23:11:13 +1100
    The page is informative and sets out the forces of destruction being allowed to prevail, due to corruption and complacent politicians. It is enables ethically-minded people and organisation to access crucial facts for their campaigns. A new force should arise on Earth, and that is one for the final revolution to take control of managing the planet for the benefit of all Life, and not just “manufactured” unending rising consumerism, which is depleting and endangered the whole natural world on which all Life depends. It is important to have facts which are updated, and to bring more ordinary people aboard.


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