History of the mining presence in Junin:
Since the early 90s, mining exploration has taken place in the Junin area of Intag. Bishimetals, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, discovered large deposits of copper and other minerals in the biodiverse Toisan Range. The mineralized areas are in three of Intag’s 7 parish townships. The concessions adjoin the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve- arguably one of the world’s most biodiverse protected areas. The preliminary Environmental Impact Statement foresees impacts to the reserve, as well as other nearby protected areas. In addition, the Toisan Range, an extremely important water resource, is home to diverse, primary forests.
Due to the strong local opposition to the mining project, which resulted in the burning down of the mining camp in May of 1997, the mining project was aborted before exploration was completed. The government criminally charged 3 community leaders for the communal act, but were unable to convict.
There would be many negative impacts if the Intag region was mined. Among the many impacts identified in the EIA, were the need to relocate hundreds of families from 4 communities, including Junin; increase in crime, impacts to dozens of endangered mammals and birds species; massive deforestation, which would lead to much drier climatic conditions and water pollution .
During the past decade, opposition to mining has dramatically increased. For example, in 2003, the Catacachi county government presented an injunction to halt further mining development. The initiative had the support of all the local parish township governments, most communities, and more than 20 organizations working in the county. The injunction argued that the granting of the mining concession violated article 88 of Ecuador's constitution, since it took place without local communities being consulted. Though the injunction had a positive resolution, it was unable to overcome the corruption and political interest of the Constitutional Tribunal, and was rejected with a vote of 5 to 4. However, we confirmed in 2004 that the constitutional injunction is still valid, since Tribunal judges have not ruled on a petition formulated by Municipal government lawyers. This invalidates the latest sale of the mining concession to Ascendant Exploration.
In the latest legal initiative, the Junin community unanimously voted to take their case to the Organization of American States Interamerican Commission for Human Rights in order to force the Ecuadorian government to respect the right of the community to prior consultation and to choose another development path.
In May 2004 Ascendant began exploration in the Junin area. However, in 2008, the Ecuadorian government revoked Ascendant Copper's mining concessions for its Junin Project. The area continues to resist mining by coming up with alternative ways to make money. The best example of these alternatives are Junin's Ecotourism Cabins.