A’I COFAN IN ECUADOR’S AMAZON FEAR ‘GOLD RUSH’ AND MERCURY POLLUTION

As I reported in The Guardian this week, the A’I Cofan community of Sinangoe in the Ecuadorian Amazon are currently fighting a potential new ‘gold rush.’ After years of their territory being invaded by small-scale gold-miners and others, the Ministry of Mines has recently awarded 10 mining concessions - purportedly legal - immediately upstream from Sinangoe along the banks of the River Aguarico and tributaries. This has happened despite promises by president Lenin Moreno that no new mining concessions will be awarded. Operations have already begun in one concession, but reports suggest the miners do not yet have an environmental license, as required by law, and GPS technology has shown they have been operating outside the concession boundaries. Arguably most concerning to the A’I Cofan is the possibility that the miners are using mercury - one of the world’s “top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern” according to the World Health Organisation. The A'I Cofan are now fighting back with their own law, systematic monitoring and media reach-out. (12-04-2018)

David Hill