Ecuador’s mining exports in 2021 nearly doubled in value from the previous year to $2.09bn, beating government expectations, the Ministry of Energy has announced. President Guillermo Lasso, a conservative ex-banker, is betting on mining to diversify the country’s income streams, as it struggles with limited liquidity worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mining exports in 2021 were “99% more than what was exported in 2020, when a value of $1.05bn was registered,” the ministry said in a statement. The government originally projected that mining exports would be worth $1.6bn last year.
The 2021 figure places mining as the country’s fourth largest source of export income behind oil, bananas and shrimp.
Oil prices (LCOc1) on international markets have recovered strongly from a collapse in demand at the height of pandemic lockdowns in 2020, and other commodities have also rebounded as economies across the world have gathered pace. Ecuador has significant mineral resources, but has lagged regional competitors Peru and Chile in large-scale mine development.
Big resource companies, including Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan and Canada’s Lundin Gold, operate in Ecuador, but many mining projects have faced community opposition, including occupation by informal miners.
The government expects three new projects in the centre of the country to raise the value of mining exports to $4bn by 2025, the statement said.