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Ecuadorean court denies public vote on halting mining projects

QUITO, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s Constitutional Court late on Friday denied for a second time a request by activists to hold a public vote on whether to ban mining in the Andean country’s mineral-rich Azuay province, where several mining projects are in development.

Azuay’s prefect, Yaku Perez, who submitted the request, said gold and copper mines threaten communities’ water sources and damage the environment.

The court, which in September ruled against Perez for the first time, unanimously decided that the public vote proposal was not constitutional.

“Incredible to understand that a genuinely democratic initiative can be blocked by the mining empire,” Perez said on Twitter.

Ecuador’s Energy Ministry said in a statement the government “reaffirms its commitment to promote responsible, regulated and controlled mining in all Ecuadorean territory.” (Reporting by Jose Llangari; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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