The Esperanza camp, which is part of the San Carlos Panantza mining complex in Ecuador, was intentionally set on fire and destroyed this weekend, according to information made public by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Non-Renewable Resources.
The copper project, located in the southeastern province of Morona Santiago, is operated by Explorcobres S.A.(EXSA), a subsidiary of Chinese-owned, Canada-based Corriente Resources.
According to the ministry, the arsonists also stole valuable objects from the camp.
“We reject these acts of vandalism and the destruction of the property that belongs to the San Carlos Panantza mining project,” the department said in a statement. “We also reject the fact that the decree of state of emergency was violated.”
Two weeks ago, Ecuador declared a state of emergency to deal with the growing number of COVID-19 infections. As of Sunday, the country had registered 1,835 confirmed cases and 48 deaths.
Besides pointing out the fact that the vandals violated the mandatory curfew that goes from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m., the Ministry of Energy also insinuated that police didn’t do their job as they are mandated to guarantee the safety of mining operations.
“We demand that authorities investigate this incident so that those responsible for the fire can be held accountable,” the communiqué reads.
San Carlos Panantza is an advanced-stage project whose reserves have been estimated at 6.6 million tonnes of copper. The 41.760- hectare property is set to host an open-pit operation expected to be active for at least 25 years.