The lifestyle of those who live around Quimsacocha, a water reservoir located 35 kilometers southwest of Cuenca, Azuay province, is threatened by mining. In 2002, the Ecuadorian government granted the Canadian company I AM GOLD's concession to exploit 8,030 hectares of the reserve, located about 4,000 meters above sea level. It is estimated that under the soils of this region lie 3.3 million ounces of gold, 10 million ounces of silver and 79 million pounds of copper.
Quimsacocha provides water to dozens of communities situated around it, including the Victoria del Portete parish that is supplied by the Irquis river. This tributary water serves for daily consumption, and is used to irrigate their plantations and must give their cows, whose milk is distributed much of southern Ecuador, including the city of Guayaquil.
Recently, I AM GOLD sold its share of the concession to INV Metals, another Canadian mining company that only awaits approval of environmental impact studies by the state to start exploitation. The inhabitants of the sector consider that while consuming much of the water from this reservoir, extraction contaminate the watersheds that supply communities. Many of them said that when the first phase of exploration was performed, the trout in the Irquis river died and suddenly the village children began to get sick.
In early 2014, the Ecuadorian government began building a Millennium School in Victoria de Portete as part of the benefits nearby communities receive due to mining concessions. Once the school is ready, students in the communities surrounding the parish must attend this new institution, since the other local schools will close. The Parish Government, mostly made up of members of the list of the current regime, has proposed to change the specialization of this school education unit from Dairy Technology for Mining and Technology in nonrenewable resources.
Now the inhabitants of Victoria de Portete are ready to fight using all possible legal bases, to resist what they call a mining imposition by the Government. Social leaders as Carlos Pérez, Federico Guzman and Angel Arpi went to jail, accused of insubordination, disturbing the peace and destruction of public property, in 2012 after protesting against mining.
"If they exploit up there I will leave, I'll have to find something else to do. Many will leave, and many others will just stay and day. What else can they do?" Said Mariano Pompilio, opposition leader of mining.