October 2007

Checking the internet for the Toronto Stock exchange a couple days ago, I noticed that Avalanche Minerals Ltd.´s share price has fallen. I take this as good news, frankly. In Ecuador, awareness of the threat has grown, and a number of local people and organizations are coming together to meet it. Stay tuned. mjf


FRIDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2007: An email dated October 3rd reached Reserva Río Guaycuyacu from one Luís Corral of Ecological Action, telling of recent events in Avalanche Minerals, Ltd., to do with the E Group concessions, and inviting everyone to come to a meeting set for Friday, October 12th in the village of San Juan de Puerto, at Km 104. The intention of the meeting was to inform affected community members and to develop some kind of strategy for confronting the “prior consultancy” the mining interests had scheduled for the next day in the same village.

WEDNESDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2007: Reserva Río Guaycuyacu sent the above-mentioned email on to our contacts within and beyond the E Group concessions, with Spanish translations of the Avalanche Minerals Press Bulletin published on the “Marketwire” (online newsletter) of the Toronto Stock Exchange of 25 September 2007. The company is now listed with the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as well.

FRIDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2007: Mimi Foyle represented Santa Rosa at the late afternoon meeting in San Juan de Puerto Quito at Km 104. There were about 35 people present, mostly from that same barrio, but also from Pachijal, Los Laureles, farms along the Km 104, Puerto Quito, a commission from Pacto, the Mayor of Pedro Vicente Maldonado, a Brazilian woman activist, and the facilitator, Luís Corral of Acción Ecológica. The Brazilian woman began with a presentation about the environmental and social impact of large-scale mining in several parts of South America, which was strengthened by the eye-witness reports of two of the women who had seen and experienced the ambience of big mining operations in Pacto. The Pacto delegation told what their experience has been dealing with mining issues in their community. Since 1996 they have been struggling to defend themselves and their way of life against mining interests, which have divided the town into factions and not brought the well-being that was promised. Luís Corral also explained something of the history of how large-scale mining has come to be developed in Ecuador. He said that the World Bank is supporting large-scale water and energy projects to serve the needs of strategic mineral extraction.
Mayor Borja of Pedro Vicente Maldonado is firmly opposed to having mining come into his sphere of influence, and proposed we should proceed with concrete actions:
1) to gather certain evidence as to what is going on, what the miners’ procedure is, and what step they are at presently so we can intervene appropriately; 2) to start a massive educational campaign to raise local awareness about mining and its potential impact on our zone, which is basically agriculturally-based and moving towards tourism; and 3) to create an inter-county organization disposed to act in defense of the counties’ lives.
Counties affected by the E Group concessions are: Puerto Quito, Pedro Vicente Maldonado, Los Bancos, Quito, Santo Domingo (now a Province), and Cotacachi (Imbabura). After the talking, it was decided that some signboards would be made to say “NO MINING!” and that the Community Center would be closed and locked so the miners would not be able to make their “consultancy”,
and thus not be able to fulfill that requirement in their legal process.

SATURDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2007: I (Mimi) did not go, but a friend who did commented that they did, indeed, make the signboards, and that the miners arrived, saw they could do nothing, and left again almost immediately, without having met with anyone from the communities.

TUESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2007: Rodrigo Picón, President of the Community Council of Santa Rosa, came to Reserva Río Guaycuyacu to ask that we write an official document with this community’s response to the mining threat, to present at a meeting to be held in Pacto on October 20th. The text of the letter is as follows:
“Santa Rosa de Pacto, October 16, 2007
To Sr. Julio González, Pacto Community Coordination Committee,
and to Sra. Yolanda Velásquez, Vice President of the Parish Council

De nuestras consideraciones:

Cordial greetings from the Santa Rosa community council, and our sincere desire that you have success in the activities you are putting forward for the social and ecological well-being of our zone.
By these presents we MANIFEST that representatives of the Canadian mining company “Avalanche” have already come several times onto properties in our neighborhood without having notified us nor asked permission of the true owners of said lands, and that they have taken rocks and other samples also without advising, asking, nor presenting any authorizing documents to justify their actions. This has planted many worries in our community.
In the plenary session of the Community Council of Santa Rosa held Saturday July 21st, 2007, the issue of mining was put forth for the consideration of the whole community. After talking among all the community members and the intervention of the Schoolteacher, there was a vote to see if miners would be allowed to enter Santa Rosa or not. The majority voted AGAINST mining. We believe that mining would NOT be positive for our neighborhood, that it would do us damage, as much environmental as social, and no one wants that to happen to us.

Sincerely, (signed and sealed with the community stamp)
Sr. Rodrigo Picón, President of the Community
Sr. Bolívar Ortega, Secretary of the Community”

(We invited Eng. Luís Morales, who had come for the company “Buscore”—contracted by Avalanche—on July 16, to this meeting, but neither he nor any of the other miners came near.)

FRIDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2007: Elly Richards (who has a farm near the 104 road), and her mayordomo, Ing. Victor Morales, went with me (Mimi) to the environmental consultancy CINGE (Coneminpa) to verify all we could about the mining exploration process in our area. We found their office in the Edificio Cominesa on 10 de Agosto y Villalengua (#402) in Quito. We were ushered into a conference room by the Director, Ing. Francisco Mena, offered beverages, and settled in to talk once joined by Ing. Mena’s colleague, anthropologist Jéssica Palacios. They were very patient throughout, and emphasized repeatedly that their current mandate is ONLY the preliminary environmental impact study (as per Articulo 28 of the Gestion ambiental) for just 3 of the 18 concessions of the “E Group”: E15, E16, and E17 (Km 104 and south). CINGE personnel does NOT in any other particular represent Avalanche Minerals Ltd. All that understood, we talked for nearly an hour and they explained how this preliminary process works and answered our questions.
Currently, the Consultoria Ambiental is at the very beginning of several steps in this preliminary environmental impact study process, comprised of the following: 

1) To set the TERMS OF REFERENCE (TR), the methodology by which they will determine the environmental impact of a first phase of mineral Exploration (which does not involve any heavy equipment). Once the TR have been submitted to the Ministerio de Energia y Minas (MEM) and are approved, authorization is given for the preliminary study to make a geological map and take rock samples, i.e., 2) to conduct the PRELIMINARY EXPLORATION STUDY. First, they must specify the project (just what it is that they—CINGE? the mining concessionaires?—intend to do), then the consultants gather and raise data (from published studies, water samples, and presumably their own studies of wildlife, botany, land use, etc.), and identify community leaders and others concerned with or potentially affected by the project to form a “social baseline.” The social baseline is passed on to the MEM, which then provides facilitation for three (3) community consultation Audiences, as the law requires that there be “real evidences” that the community has, in fact, participated in the study. Communities will be notified by radio, telephone, internet, site visits, community leaders, etc. (Actually, timely and thorough communications have always been difficult in our area, something that urban folk most often do not sufficiently take into account.) There was mention of a Vigilance Commission to be made up of community members, though I am not sure if this is coming from the meetings with MEM facilitation, or as part of the

Presumably, once 2) and 3) are completed and written up—a process which may take 4-6 months, according to Ing. Mena’s estimate—they are submitted to the MEM for approval. If approved, Avalanche’s PRELIMINARY EXPLORATION phase can begin, with annual follow-up audiences (presumably by the aforementioned Vigilance Commission) to see if the plan is being followed. It was made clear to me that the Consultants will only work with their own personnel, and not offer jobs to any community members during this preliminary study period.

Stay tuned for further developments. We are writing a letter to the MEM asking them to oversee this process as there have already been some anomalies that are not in keeping with the due process of law that everybody swears they are following!