Ecuador targets mining investment through Quito exchange

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ecuador is working to create a mining venture exchange as President Lenín Moreno seeks to attract private investment in the country's fledgling industry.

The plan is to link trading in junior mining stocks on the Toronto and Quito exchanges as part of a bid to finance US$488mn in exploration, the mining ministry said.

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"We're democratizing the industry. Local investors will be able to invest in mining, which is becoming a prosperous sector," deputy industrial mining secretary Henry Troya said in a statement. "We're building a sustainable industry."

Peru's pioneering Lima venture exchange managed to list a dozen exploration companies at its height, including Karmin Exploration, Duran Ventures and Red Eagle Mining. Santiago followed its example with its own venture exchange in 2014.

Moreno, who took office in May, wants to attract US$4.6bn in investment over the next four years in large-scale mining projects by companies including Lundin Gold, EcuaGold Mining, INV Metals, EcuaCorriente, Cornerstone Capital Resources, BHP Billiton and China Explorcobres.

The government, which overhauled its mining concessions registry, has awarded 237 concessions to date to local and international mining companies, the ministry added.

The ministry aims to boost mining exploration investment commitments to US$600mn by the end of the year, Guayaquil newspaper El Telégrafo reported, citing Troya's presentation at a mining conference in Quito. At least 27 companies have set up offices in Ecuador this year, including BHP Billiton, Newmont Mining, Fortescue Metals Group, Hancock Prospecting and Newcrest Mining, it said.

The ministry is also tracking six mining exploration projects including Codelco-Enami JV Llurimagua and Cornerstone's Cascabel, according to the paper. Ecuador's mining chamber is pushing the government to scrap both a tax on windfall profits and a capital gains tax to make the industry more competitive, it said.

Mining investment in Ecuador, which rose fivefold from 2013 to 2016, is expected to quadruple from 2017 to 2020, according to the ministry. The investments will also quadruple employment in the industry through 2022, according to UK consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie.

Ecuador, which depends on crude oil for half its national budget, is seeking to drum up more foreign investment after the recent crude price slump slashed government revenue. The government in 2015 created the mining ministry and announced plans to promote 36 projects to produce gold, copper and molybdenum estimated to be worth US$200bn.


In other mining news, Moreno ordered a commission to be set up to handle a US$4mn environmental remediation plan for Zaruma municipality in El Oro province, where 94km of illegal mining tunnels have sparked cave-ins under homes, schools and other infrastructure, Quito newspaper El Comercio reported.

The commission, which will be headed by interior minister César Navas, will involve half a dozen ministries including those of mining and the environment, as well as local governments and planning agency Senplades, and have three months to draft a plan for the area, where a state of emergency was declared last month.

Together with neighboring Peru and Colombia, Ecuador's government has launched a crackdown on illegal mining, blamed for widespread pollution, deforestation, money laundering, tax evasion and the slave trade.