Ecuador: Copper Mine threatens spectacled bears

A young spectacled bearHighly endangered spectacled bears are living in the Intag forests. (Credit:

“Our unique nature and the social peace are much more valuable than copper,” the residents of the Intag say. The montane rainforests in northern Ecuador are among the most species-rich ecosystems in the country. The rare spectacled bears are also living here. Unfortunately, copper and gold reserves can also be found there. Mining companies have been trying to exploit the area for almost 20 years. However, until today they have failed due to the people's strong cohesion and resistance.

They are supported by the local environmental group DECOIN . Together, they have forced the government and international mining companies to surrender: in 1997, the Japanese Mitsubishi Group was affected and in 2009, the Canadian company Copper Mesa / Ascendant Copper Corporation.

Rainforest Rescue has long been supporting the people in the Intag. 3,000 hectares of threatened montane rainforests above the copper reserves have been bought with donations and transferred as communal forest to the Junin village.

The government however is making another attempt. President Rafael Correa has set up the state-owned mining company ENAMI. Together with the Chilean state-owned company CODELCO, the world's largest copper producer, he wants to approach the Llurimagua project, which is the official name of the mining concession in the Troisan Mountains.

The government is trying to mislead the public with advertising campaigns of “social and environmentally responsible mining”. The inhabitants who are trying to protect their rainforests, livelihoods and rights, are being persecuted with smear campaigns.

This year, the mining project is supposed to start. The Intag's inhabitants are asking for our support. Together with Intag e.V., Rainforest Rescue is protesting. Please write to President Correa


Every one of us consumes about one ton of copper in his life. Copper can be found in electrical cables and equipment, water pipes, cars, mobile phones, machinery and power plants. Up to 30 tons of copper are being used in ring generators of large wind turbines. Copper of up to several hundred kilometres can be found in the generator windings.

Last year, more than 19 million tons of the industrial metal was used around the world.

The alternatives

The fight against mining in the Intag has caused many alternative projects to evolve. These include, inter alia, ecotourism, arts and crafts and the cultivation of organic coffee (available in our rainforest shop ).They are helping the people to earn a living and to live a self-determined life in harmony with nature. The umbrella organization Corporación Toisan is coordinating the various initiatives of the people.

The donations of Rainforest Rescue enabled the residents to build a tourist accommodation made of bamboo. It is run by the villagers of Junin. They are offering tours through the montane rainforests and to the waterfalls. Anyone who wants to visit Junin and the Intag region can find more infos on Intagtours.