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Popular consultation on the prohibition of mining activities in Cuenca

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador, in an extraordinary session held on Friday, September 18, 2020, issued a ruling of constitutionality on the proposal for a popular consultation presented by the Municipal Council of Cuenca, regarding the prohibition of large- and medium-scale mining activities in five water recharge zones located in that canton.

According to Maldonado and Torres (2017), the Cajas massif has large extensions of páramo, which are home to Ecuador's most important wetlands. In addition, the area is unique because its waters drain into two river basins (Pacific and Atlantic) that give rise to important rivers in the southern zone and provide water to a large part of the population in the south of the country. The complex water system of the Cajas massif allows for the survival and local economy of several cantons. The subsoil of this ecosystem contains polymetallic deposits that have awakened the interest of transnational corporations, which in alliance with the State, have quickly mobilized resources to this area, regardless of the multiple uses and values that this territory offers. The following map shows the influence of mining on the territory:

The biosphere area of the Macizo del Cajas could benefit substantially if the inhabitants of Cuenca choose to ban mining activities in their territory in favor of a sustainable future. However, at the same time, it is indispensable to think about the sustainability of this territory.Tourism probably represents an opportunity as a means of sustainable development in conjunction with other productive activities typical of this territory, however, there is still much work to be done.


Maldonado, P., & Torres, N. (2018). Crónica de la minería metálica en el Cajas. Retrieved September 21, 2020, from ALDEA website:

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