Ecuador's leader says no more tweaks to mining tax law

Wed May 13, 2015 4:27pm EDT
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QUITO May 13 (Reuters) - Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said on Wednesday he was not planning any additional overhaul of the Andean country's mining law, likely disappointing investors who have been pushing for lower taxes.

The government has pushed through a number of reforms since 2009, but foreign gold, silver and copper ming companies say heavy taxation works against Ecuador's aim of attracting $5 billion worth of mining investment over the next five years.

The left-wing Correa frames the tax debate as an issue of Ecuadorian sovereignty and says the funds are used to bolster social programs in the poor OPEC nation.

"The changes have been made already, we have a lot of interest," Correa said during a briefing with foreign correspondents. "If to render mining investment attractive I have to give away the country's natural resources, go look for another country."

While a handful of foreign mining companies have ventured into Ecuador in the past decade, investment has been minimal.

The country's reputation took a hit in 2013, when large Canadian-based producer Kinross Gold pulled out of the largest gold project, Fruta del Norte, saying the government refused to compromise on a 70 percent tax. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Ted Botha)