Large-scale mining in the Amazon

Located in the Cordillera del Cóndor mountain range in the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon, the site of the project Mirador is one of many faces of industrial mining. Since the first geological and geochemical studies was carried out in 1994, this area has been in a process of transformation.

Noragric's Esben Leifsen analysed three examples from the Mirador mining project, introducing the concept of surfacing referring to practices that state and corporate actors make use of to manage, facilitate and enact a redistributive economic policy, and at the same time produce value in and for the global capitalist market.

The Mirador mine, operated by the Chinese consortium ECSA, was officially opened in July 2019 and started to extract minerals in December the same year. Constructing the Mirador project has required a substantial land allocation, the displacement of families, and the converting of dwellings, pastures and gardens into an industrial extraction site.

It entails the clearing of forest, the digging out of earth materials, the sedimentation of rivers and streams and the release of acids and heavy metals into the hydro-landscape. New techno-nature designs change the shape of the landscape and the course of rivers. Use of heavy machinery in a highly biodiverse environment causes species reduction and the fleeing of animals, says Leifsen.

People with longer engagements with this landscape and ecology are marginally incorporated into the industrial mining-economy as temporary workers. Constructing the Mirador project has so far not eliminated the rural livelihoods of the indigenous Shuar and the mestizo peasants, the colonos. Rather we see the assemblage of a new mining reality that is superimposed on other forms of life, says Leifsen.

Leifsen's study is an attempt to understand geosocial transformations and the practices related to mining in this region.

[Source: Political Geography]
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Read the full article in Political Geography
The socionature that neo-extractivism can see: Practicing redistribution and compensation around large-scale mining in the Southern Ecuadorian Amazon
By Esben Leifsen

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Published 19. October 2020 - 11:12 - Updated 19. October 2020 - 11:16