In 2014, the Ecuadorian Minister of the Environment issued Ministerial Agreement 37 to establish an environmental regulation applicable to mining activities. This regulation aims to promote mining sustainable development in Ecuador through the establishment of standards, procedures, and processes to prevent, control, mitigate, rehabilitate, remedy and compensate for the effects that mining activities may have on the environment and society.
This Ministerial Agreement is applicable to those who carry out activities such as exploration, exploitation, beneficiation, processing, smelting and refining as well as partial or total site closure activities.
Consequently, medium and large-scale mining projects must be entered on an environmental registry for their initial exploration phase, while advanced exploration, exploitation, and subsequent phases require an environmental licence. In order to receive a licence, prior to the beginning of the activities, the applicant must submit an Environmental Impact Assessment.
The assessment must identify, describe, quantify and assess the foreseeable environmental and socio-economic effects of the mining project. In addition, it must include an Environmental Management Plan that describes measures to be taken that will prevent, mitigate, control, compensate, correct and repair the negative environmental effects and maximise the positive impacts. The mining operation entity is required to provide financial guarantees.