In the Ecuadorian Amazon, a boom in legal and illegal gold mining has sparked Indigenous land rights conflicts and water contamination in the Anzu and Jatunyacu rivers.
Recently analyzed water samples from the region reveal high concentrations of toxic metals, such as lead and aluminum, that are up to 500% higher than permissible limits.
In some of the sites studied, aquatic insects had disappeared, indicating high levels of pollution and serious health impacts to communities relying on the rivers for water and fish.
Recent court hearings have ordered mining companies to offer reparations to affected communities and undertake clear consultation processes.
The Yutsupino River is one of the tributaries of the Napo, and mining activity is constant there. Not only are there artisanal miners but, under the small mining regime, the company Terraearth Resources SA operates. Exist four concessions of the Tena Alluvial Project —Talag, Confluencia, Anzu Norte and El Icho— do not yet have an environmental license. However, in Ecuador, exploration and advanced exploration processes (before exploitation) in small-scale metal mining —such as the one carried out in this project— do require an environmental license, according to the specialist in Environmental Law, Lucia Gallardo.
But, the Federation maintains that the company has indeed carried out mining activities without an environmental license in the Confluencia and El Icho concessions, and that it has failed to comply with the provisions of its environmental license in the Regina 1S and Vista Anzu concessions.
Patricio Shiguango, president of the Foin, says that the indigenous communities ask that the mining be stopped because the company Terraearth Resources SA has carried it out for many years outside the permitted area and without an environmental license. They ask the Ministry of the Environment to sanction the company.
On February 5, 2020, the Foin denounced something else: in a statement it mentioned the irregularities found in the study's social participation process and the environmental contamination in the Jatunyacu, Anzu, Talag, Yutzupino, Piocullin and Napo rivers, in the province of Napo. In this area there is activity of artisanal miners and there is the company Terraearth Resources SA
The Foundation Rio Napo says that the mining company began to carry out activities "aggressively and directly." One source, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, says the mining company "does not comply with environmental regulations." In addition, he assures that they do not carry out correct signage, fuel storage, machinery maintenance, proper water management, and affirms that there are workers without protective equipment.