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Gina Rinehart’s mine overrun by illegal gold diggers

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Mining magnate and business women Gina Rinehart is seen watching on during the 2018 Australia Swimming National Trials at the Optus Aquatic Centre on March 2, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Gina Rinehart. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

An Ecuadorian copper mine owned by Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has had its activities “hampered” by illegal gold diggers on site.

Hanrine Ecuadorian Exploration and Mining said work at the La Merced de Buenos Aires district had paused after illegal miners searched for gold on the site, NCA reported. Rinehart owns 76.6 per cent of Hanrine.

“Hanrine continues to undertake exploration in Ecuador, albeit less so last year given the pandemic. At times this has also been temporarily hampered due to incursions by illegal miners,” a Hancock Prospecting spokesman said.

What’s going on?

Ecuador has become a magnet for mining companies in recent years after copper and gold was discovered, however the discovery has also triggered ongoing disputes with indigenous groups and illegal miners.

The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has sought to crack down on the illegal mining, or wildcatting, claiming it poses both environmental and personal safety risks.

Additionally, he’s warned it will hamper the country’s attempts to attract foreign investment. Ecuador plans to double the value of mining to its economy in 2021, however according to Fitch Solutions Macro Research from 2019, the continued conflicts risk this goal.

The Ecuador government sent 2,400 soldiers and police officers to the Buenos Aires region to dispel the illegal miners, who numbered as many as 10,000.

But in 2020, assailants staged attacks on mine installations and solte equipment, Reuters reported.

“There is not a consensus on what role mining should play in the development of economy, and communities often feel like they’ve been run over,” said Sergio Guzman, Andean region director for consultancy group Colombia Risk Analysis.

“A conciliation is needed between the (government’s) mining objectives, and how this results in (benefits) for the communities.”

As of December, two of the five major mining projects in Ecuador had been halted, while others struggled to make headway against local communities concerned that the miners would destroy the environment while adding few jobs or other benefits.

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