A historic court ruling in Ecuador that will let a community vote on whether to allow mining in its midst could set the stage for a region-wide grassroots pushback against extractives projects. Pedro Palacios, the mayor of the Andean city of Cuenca, had submitted the request for a referendum to Ecuador’s Constitutional Court on Sept. 8, following mounting concerns about planned gold-mining activities impacting water supplies. Ten days later, the court ruled that the referendum, as framed, could go ahead in the next election. “It’s a strategy that could set back mining companies using political means and we can see once more that the residents don’t want mining in Cuenca,” Paola Granizo, an activist with the civil society group Yasunidos Cuenca, told Mongabay in a recent interview. The proposed mining operations that precipitated the push for the referendum are the Río Blanco project, run by Chinese firm Ecuagoldmining South America S.A., and the Loma Larga project, run by Canada-based INV Metals. Río Blanco would not be affected by the outcome of the referendum because it is already in a phase of exploitation. But it remains on hold under a May 18 court order after the government was accused of not consulting with local communities prior to the start of operations. Loma Larga has not yet been approved for exploitation, pending a review of its environmental impact study, but has already obtained mining rights; in a Sept. 21 statement, INV Metals said it expects the project to be allowed to proceed,…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer