Ecuadorians opt to restrict oil and mining ahead of run-off vote

22nd August 2023 By: Bloomberg

Ecuadorians voted to shut a major oil field in the Amazon region and ban new mining concessions near Quito, sending a clear message to the next government on prioritizing environmental protection over natural resource development.

With about 93% of votes counted Monday, 59% favored closing the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini field run by Petroecuador in a national park. Separately, most voters in Quito chose to cease the granting of mineral permits in six parishes northwest of the capital. The two polls were part of Ecuador’s snap election Sunday.

Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo took to social media to promote closing the oil field as a contribution to a shift away from fossil fuels and to protect the Yasuni National Park’s wildlife, including jaguars, giant otters and macaws. Closing oil production elsewhere in the park wasn’t on the ballot.

The results offer the winner of October’s run-off presidential vote between entrepreneur Daniel Noboa and socialist candidate Luisa Gonzalez a clearer idea of public sentiment toward raw material extraction. Ecuador’s next leader will have to weigh that alongside economic considerations. Officials have warned that the cost of the shutdown to the budget will be $1.2-billion near term and $16-billion over the life of the field into the early 2040s.

In Quito, 68% of voters favored banning new concessions for mines in an area covering six of the capital district’s parishes known as the Andean Choco, home to toucans and spectacled bears. Existing concessions won’t be affected, according to an earlier court ruling.