www.ecuadorminingnews.com - All copyrights
belong to Ecuador Mining News
print article | send to friend
Q&A with Jaime Jarrín Jurado, PhD
Dean of Engineering Geology, Mining, Petroleum and Environmental Faculty at Ecuador’s Central University
Photo Caption: Silvia interviews Jaime Jarrin, PhD in Quito, Ecuador, discussing anti-mining activists, the Water Code, and his new leadership.
By Silvia Santacruz
New York, July 29, 2010
During your short tenure as Dean, you have actively participated in the nation’s debate on mining, taking on an unprecedented leadership role at the Central University. Why did you decide to join the debate?
Historically, our faculty had remained aloof from public opinion and disconnected from the both the public and private sectors. I never agreed with that policy, I set out to change that approach soon after I took this office—only three months ago. I believe we need to defend the mining industry because it affects us directly. I am convinced that mining can drive our country’s development much as oil has done. It was the mining industry that made a huge difference in the economic and infrastructure damage suffered in Chile compared to that in Haiti following the devastating earthquakes in each country.
However, oil revenues have only benefited the central government while the oil-rich Amazon continues impoverished. Why would mining be different?
Oil revenues have been mismanaged. It is inconceivable that we should have schools filled with children with bellies bloated due to parasites lying next to oil wells, from where the oil travels through pipelines to feed the bureaucracy. For that reason, the new Constitution and Mining Law guarantees local reinvestment from industry revenues. Additionally, mining companies are aware that without this social license, their projects could fail.
The Water Code debate is still ongoing. Have you discuss this issue with the anti-mining activists?
Yes. A few weeks ago I met with the indigenous leader Humberto Cholango, president of the Kichwa Ecuarunari Confederation. Indigenous groups are the most visible anti-mining force in Ecuador. Their main argument is that mineral extraction will compromise the nation’s water resources. I explained to him that mining only consumes 1.5 percent of the water other industries use. But mining has been politicized. If they [the government] would allow us, the technical experts, to reach an agreement we would have done so months ago.
If so, what specific industries consume more water than mining?
For example, the dairy and rice industries consume more water than mining. While the extraction of a kilogram of copper requires 244 liters of recyclable water, producing a liter of milk requires 800 liters and a kilo of rice 2,000 liters. The mining debate needs to be more honest and free from misinformation. There are other sources of pollution which mining opponents fail to mention, such as cemeteries. Some mass graves flow directly into aquifers that feed wells. A dead body weighing between 50 and 70 kilos is a source of considerable pollution. In Atuntaqui [Imbabura province, in northern Ecuador] vegetables grow irrigated by sewage.