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Ecuador court revokes environmental permit for Rio Magdalena Project

Ecuador court revokes environmental permit for Rio Magdalena Project

Ecuador court revokes environmental permit for Rio Magdalena Project

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador affirmed the revocation of environmental permits for Cornerstone Capital Resources (State Mining Company Enami) for the Rio Magdalena Project.

In 2017, the Ministry of Environment (ME), granted the environmental permit for the first exploration phase of the Los Cedros protected forests at the project.

The Rio Magdalena project forms three of the nine concessions within Cornerstones Ecuadorean subsidiary Cornerstone Ecuador SA (CESA) and Enami EP strategic exploration alliance (Enami – CESA SEA), in north-west Ecuador.

The permit was challenged by the Municipality of Cotacachi (province of Imbabura) at a local court in 2019. It had requested a court order to revoke Enamis environment registration by the ministry. This was based on failure to consult with local communities.

The lower court ruled that the environmental registration for this project was invalid.

Ecuador’s state-owned miner company challenged the lower courts decision in the Constitutional Court. It cited that no such consultations were required to explore the early stages of exploration and that an environmental registration permit was sufficient.

The Ecuador Constitutional Court in December 2021 revoked water and environmental rights for Rio Magdalena concessions.

Official from Rainforest Action Group had stated that Liz Downes, an advocate group, had said that mining activities, even at the early exploration stage, in the high-altitude cloud forest and grassland areas of the Ecuadorian Andes, could pollute and deplete local water supplies and threaten the survival of thousands of endangered and threatened species.

Cornerstone filed a petition to clarify the effect of the Constitutional Court’s decision regarding the revocation of permits in the same month as the permit revocation.

Since March 2021, work on the project has been halted.

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Cornerstone stated that it is currently consulting with legal counsel to determine whether they have any rights or remedies that would allow them to continue exploration at Rio Magdalena.

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