Gold mining impact assessment on the economy and the environment in Ecuador

The influence of gold mining on ecological and economic development is analyzed. In terms of the Portovelo-Zaruma Deposit in Ecuador, the mining history is discussed, the characteristic of the ore region is given, the applied methods and technologies of gold mining are analyzed. The influence of the development of the gold mining industry in the region on the economy and environment is shown. Gold mining provides a certain economic income and employment opportunities for the local population. An obstacle to effective control and regulation of subsoil use in the region is the informal nature of employment, which acts as a form of poverty reduction. Artisanal and small-scale gold mining is accompanied by a significant impact on the environment, pollution of rivers, in particular through the use of mercury and sodium cyanide in the process of metal extraction. Processing plants are located along rivers, their waters, riverbed sediments contain mercury, which leads to contamination of surface and ground water, affects the incidence of population. Waste dumps are formed, the placement of which leads to the withdrawal of agricultural land from circulation and changes in the landscape. The objects of accumulated environmental damage and tailings dumps formed as a result of past economic activity present an acute problem. In order to ensure the sustainable development of the Portovelo-Zaruma area, preserve and maintain existing mines as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site, it is proposed to create a legislative framework for the formation of the Federal Fund of subsoil users, the introduction of restrictions on gold mining and the inclusion of such deposits in the Fund of future generations, since current technologies and conditions now in use are incapable to eliminate environmental damage. A mechanism for managing natural resources and ensuring environmentally sustainable development of the territory in this region is proposed, which includes shared financing of environmental projects, maintaining restrictions on the involvement of new mining sites on the cost–benefit basis and the balance of interests of involved parties, creating liquidation funds for the purpose of reclamation of disturbed lands and elimination of accumulated environmental damage, development of geo-ecological tourism and guided outing to historical sites of mine workings and preservation of traditional mining for the local population. © 2020, "Ore and Metals" Publishing house. All rights reserved.

Apolo Herrera A.E. , Chàvez Ferreyra Y.K. , Potravny I.M.2
Ore and Metals" Publishing house"
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  • 1 People’s Friendship University of Russia, Moscow, Russian Federation
  • 2 Plekhanov Russian University of Economic, Moscow, Russian Federation
Economy; Ecuador; Environmental impact assessment; Environmental management; Environmental pollution; Gold mining; Portovelo-Zaruma field; Project; Sustainable development
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