Ecuador expects to start production of four major mining projects by the end of President Guillermo Lasso’s first term in office in 2025, as he seeks to diversify the economy beyond oil exports, the Ministry of Natural Resources said on Friday. Lasso has been trying to attract private investment to boost the economy, which was in a deep recession last year, exacerbating Ecuador’s cash-strapped economy.
To do so, the President has issued a new decree, paving the way for investment in the nation and mining projects. This has the potential to open the floodgates for miners looking to expand or begin mining in the mineral-rich country.
Ecuador has rich mineral resources but lags behind its Andean neighbors Peru and Chile in the development of large mines. Many large mining projects in Ecuador face resistance from local communities and are struggling to fill informal miners who have slowed their development. However, the right approach with consultation with local communities has proven to be extremely effective. Successful projects like Solaris Resources’ (TSX:SLS) Warintza Project have been proven to be some of the most promising copper projects in the entire Andean region, and have been models of how mining companies can work hand in hand with local communities to uphold critical ESG principles.
Three gold concessions of Canadian companies Dundee Precious Metals (TSX:DPM) in Loma Largo, Atico Mining Corp (TSXV:ATY) in Plata, and Adventus Mining Corp (TSXV:ADZN) in Curipamba are in advanced exploration phase and could begin production by 2023, the Department of Energy, Non-Renewable Energy and Natural Resources said in its statement. The Cascabel concession, operated by Australia’s SolGold Plc, is expected to start copper production by 2025, the ministry added.
The largest copper mine in South America, the Mirador Project, operated by a subsidiary of the Chinese consortium CRCC Tongguan, commenced production in mid-2019. Its first major gold mine, the Canadian Lundin Gold Inc.’s (TSX:LUN) Fruta del Norte mine project, started in November this year. Its authorities expect exports of mineral resources to reach $1.6 billion a year, an increase of 7.4% from 2020.
With Ecuador positioning itself as a nation of open arms for the mining industry, it is set to catch up to, and surpass its neighbours in the coming years and decades.