Aurania Resources Ltd. (ARU:TSX.V; AUIAF:OTCQB) described in a news release Ecuador's newly issued presidential Decree 51. This action plan intends to develop the country's mining industry into one that is wholly legal, efficient, environmentally and socially responsible and conducive to further investment and business. The ultimate goal is for mining to become a major economic sector in Ecuador.
"This decree from the office of President [Guillermo] Lasso represents unequivocal support for exploration and mining that is done with due community engagement and care of the environment," Aurania Chairman and CEO Dr. Keith Barron said in the release. The company's Fruta del Norte project "represents Ecuador's first example of a mining operation that fits the framework envisioned by the government."
As for management of the mining industry, the decree places it under the purview of Ecuador's central government. As of now, several steps are in place to improve the existing processes related to oversight.
For one, the Regulatory Agency of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition (MENRR), within 90 days, must provide a detailed report of all current mineral concessions and an action plan for improving the mining concession application and maintenance system.
Within two months, the MENRR will review the current permitting process, prioritize the backlog of permits and implement a more efficient way of processing applications. Additionally, it must review all pending applications within three months' time.
The decree highlights that Ecuador intends to eliminate illegal mining and do so through a collaboration between the various state ministries.
Regarding the transition toward greater environmental responsibility, social engagement and governance of labor laws and regulations (ESG) in the industry, the MENRR intends to increase awareness among the communicates around mines about the benefits of responsible mining. The ministry will define a regulation allowing for such early consultation with communities of proposed mines, develop a plan for handling related disputes and form a committee to develop necessary policies related to mining governance.
Finally, in terms of working to boost financial investment and business development in Ecuador, the state will be transparent about its mining revenues and uses of those monies. It will incentivize the development of priority resource projects and will encourage mining agreements between concession holders and the state. The National Mining Co. is tasked with negotiating agreements with interested parties to advance state-owned mining concessions. Also, the state will formulate a way in which illegal mining operations can be legitimized and incentivized to adopt ESG practices and pay the requisite taxes.
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