Ecuador explores mining sector cooperation with India

July 17th, 2008 - 7:03 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) Ecuador wants India’s expertise to develop its nascent mining industry, its vice foreign minister Jose Valencia said here Thursday. Valencia, who discussed the issue with India’s Minister of State for Mines, Chemicals and Fertilisers B.K. Handique, later told reporters the South American country hopes to open its mining sector to private players after a new legal framework is put in place by the year-end.

Several Indian companies have shown interest in investing in mineral resources exploration, especially for copper and gold, he said.

Handique said the meeting was “just the beginning” of a long process of cooperation.

Valencia said Ecuador’s mining sector was not as well-developed as neighbouring Chile and Peru, but as it was also located in the Andean highlands like those countries, it had the same geographical features that indicate it too could have rich mineral resources.

“We had some trouble with mining concessions. Previous governments had handed over 200 of them without any rules or regulations,” Valencia said.

The current Ecuadorian government has taken back those “fake” concessions, which it claimed were mostly on paper.

Currently, only Canadian companies such as Corriente Resources and IAM Gold Corp are engaged in gold and copper mining in Ecuador.

“We will be adopting a new constitution and a new mining law, which we hope will be in place by the end of this year,” he said, adding that this new legal framework will ensure benefit for both the government and the investors.

His visit, said Valencia, was an indication of Ecuador’s interest in having closer relations with India.

“Our foreign minister will be coming here by the end of this year. We also expect a visit from our president (Rafael Correa) next year,” he said.

The current bilateral trade volume is $170 million (Rs.7.27 billion), which has been growing 100 percent annually in recent years.

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