In late September 2020, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador authorized the use of referendums on mining activities before granting mining titles to companies. The Constitutional Court has approved a request by the Guangxi municipal government, the capital of the province of Asuwe in the Andean highlands of southern Ecuador, to arrange a referendum on one-fifth of large- and medium-scale mining activities. Urban water resources. The municipality demanded the right of citizens to participate.
The decision was based on two mining projects in the province of Azuwe. These are the Rio Blanco project led by the Chinese company Equacoldmining South America SA and the Loma Larga project of the Canadian company INV Metals. Both projects demand socio-environmental justice from the people of Ecuador, guaranteeing a sustainable future based on free and informed consent from indigenous peoples and other local communities.
This policy, as stated in the judgment of the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court, is a reminder of the right of people to dispose of their natural resources and resources, which is the title of Article 21 of the African Convention on Human and Human Rights.
Quenca is located in a hydrologically sensitive permo ecosystem. While the impact of the mine is still minimal, this part of the Andean Mountains, which could grow significantly, was warned in 2016 by an independent report from Minewatch Canada, an organization that monitors actors in the extraction industries in Latin America and Europe. Africa.
Ecuador became the first country in 2008 to include the rights of nature in its constitution. It is natural for personality to form the basis of the principle “Peon Vivir” based on the harmonious relationship between human beings. And nature, and its socio-cultural foundations can be found on the African continent.
In Africa, the rights of nature are still underestimated today. However, we can see the beginning of civil society initiatives, as illustrated by the actions of the Earth Law Center and the River Ethiopian Trust Foundation (RETFON), voluntary organizations fighting for rights to the Ethiopian River in the south. From Nigeria. These issues are being closely monitored by the IRMA approach, which focuses on the development of responsible mining policies.
Following the example of the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court’s Guenca ruling, other regions may seek referendums rather than challenge mining projects. If the courts do not uphold the constitutional guarantee, local communities may have final say in ensuring the integrity of their unique ecosystem.
However, we are also seeing more and more mobilization of the local population against the growth of the mining sector in Africa. In Madagascar, mining activities are criticized and opposed. Projects like the Somahanina Gold Mine in 2016 should be put on hold for some time. The policy form of referendums on mining projects in the region is likely to take shape if the tasks of local acceptance and mitigation of negative impacts are not improved. . This is one of the future evolutions of Africa’s next mining codes, which could be extended to infrastructure projects with a strong environmental footprint.