QUITO – The head of Ecuador’s Environment Ministry said on Friday that his portfolio had received 400 applications for environmental permits from mining companies, 90 percent of them for gold projects.
“We have around 400 concessions awaiting licenses nationwide,” Tarsicio Granizo said in an interview with EFE in which he added that some of the applications were for copper mining operations.
He said the National Water Secretariat also was involved in reviewing the applications because of the need to protect water sources.
Some of the requests have come from mining outfits looking to develop projects in the northwestern province of Esmeraldas, the north-central region of Pichincha province (whose capital is Quito) and the southern provinces of Morona Santiago and Azuay.
No definite timetable has been set for concluding the preliminary studies, but Granizo said the Environment Ministry was looking to accelerate the process.
Several indigenous groups and other sectors oppose mining concessions in Ecuador due to fears those operations will harm ecosystems, particularly in the country’s south.