QUITO, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese mining consortium on Tuesday delivered 15 million U.S. dollars in advance royalties to the Ecuadorian government.
Ecuacorriente (ECSA), the consortium operating the Mirador mine in eastern Ecuador's Amazon region, "is fulfilling its commitment" in keeping with the terms of its contract with Ecuador, company president Hu Jiandong said at a ceremony attended by high-level officials.
Ecuadorian Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner and Minister of Energy and Non-renewable Natural Resources Agusto Briones were among those present, along with Chinese Ambassador to Ecuador Chen Guoyou, and top ECSA executives.
With this latest payment, the consortium comprised of the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited and Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Holdings Co. Ltd, has now paid Ecuador the 100 million U.S. dollars in advance royalties it had pledged in the contract.
Royalties are payments concession-holders make to governments for the rights to explore mines, oil deposits or similar reserves.
The copper mine in Tundayme, a community in the Amazonian province of Zamora Chinchipe, is Ecuador's largest.
Sonnenholzner said the government is a big supporter of mining projects that are sensitive to the surrounding environment and local communities.
"The country must see the benefit of large-scale mining," said Sonnenholzner.
According to ECSA's vice president, Mauricio Nunez, Ecuadorian law stipulates that 60 percent of the royalties delivered by the company must be invested in social development programs in the Mirador region.
"We hope that the areas around our mine will be able to benefit from the development of mining through projects in education, healthcare, road building and other benefits for the community," said Nunez.
The Mirador mine, which has generated 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and spurred the creation of new companies, is expected to yield copper concentrate for some 30 years. The metal is then shipped to China, where it is processed.