Case Study 07 (Spanish):
Case Study 07: Shuar Indigenous People

THE ISSUE: Mining projects have the potential to bring significant economic and social benefits to neighbouring indigenous communities. However, there have been instances around the world of extended conflicts between mining companies and indigenous peoples over questions of land rights, access, environmental impact, compensation, and other issues. How do mining operations nurture and sustain mutually beneficial, constructive relationships with their indigenous neighbours while respecting their unique culture, traditions and values?


Kinross’ Ten Guiding Principles for Corporate Responsibility establish the standards through which we define our working relationships with our employees, partners, governments, civil society, and communities where we live and operate. Within this context, we recognize the unique considerations of indigenous peoples, and we are committed to working with those who live near our mines and projects. We have also established guidelines for our relations with indigenous peoples, which are outlined in the Working with Indigenous Peoples section of this report. Our aim is to develop projects and conduct our operations in a manner that respects and strengthens their communities and brings positive long-term contributions to their quality of life.

Our relations with the Shuar Nation of Zamora-Chinchipe in Ecuador illustrate how we apply these principles in both our formal and day-to-day interactions with the indigenous peoples living in the vicinity of one of our growth projects.

The Shuar Nation represents about 80,000 of the one million indigenous peoples in Ecuador. Approximately 5,475 Shuar people live in Zamora-Chinchipe, the region where our Fruta del Norte (FDN) project is located. Within the FDN project area, the nearest Shuar communities are Nankais and Achunts, located approximately 30 and 25 kilometres from the project respectively, and the hunting camps of El Pindal, El Carmen, and La Merced, located 20 kilometres from the project.

These communities are all part of the Shuar Federation of Zamora-Chinchipe, an organization created in 1988 to represent the interests of the associated centres and communities in the province. The Federation strives to ensure that the Shuar Nation actively participates in the region’s development process, while preserving the Shuar identity and cultural values. The Shuar Nation are active in hunting, fishing and subsistence farming. They are characterized by strong cultural traditions, expressed through their language, food, myths, music and dance. Traditional cultural activities in the area include cultural and spiritual rituals, such as visits to sacred places (waterfalls). Sports are also a major daily activity.

Aurelian Resources Inc., which was acquired by Kinross in 2008, began informal consultations with the Shuar in 2007, in the earliest days of exploration after acquiring the FDN mineral concessions. Recognizing that the modern Shuar Nation may not fully reflect ancestral land use, the FDN project staff met with leaders of the Shuar Nation in order to understand the extent of their ancestral land rights (which are protected by the Constitution of Ecuador) and to maintain open communication regarding the progress of exploration and, once the deposit was discovered, project development.

During the impact assessment phase of its project feasibility studies, Kinross has subsequently paid particular attention to documenting all aspects of the Shuar Nation. We have also supported baseline studies conducted on behalf of the Shuar Nation for their five-year development plan.

Through consultation, we have been able to design the FDN project in a way that does not affect ancestral land rights of the Shuar Nation, or negatively impact sacred sites and resources. We have also focused on proactive engagement to ensure an integrated, balanced and inclusive development for the indigenous community.

In 2009, we signed a Co-operation Agreement with the Shuar Federation, setting guidelines for determining which Federation projects we would support. Designed to improve the quality of life of people in the region, they included strengthening the internal capacity of the Federation and Shuar Nation, investing in community infrastructure projects and economic development activities, and supporting traditional cultural and sporting events.

The agreement has been successful in increasing the organizational competency of the Shuar Federation and its 54 communities in Zamora-Chinchipe; improving school, road and water infrastructure; and supporting understanding of Shuar culture. As such, it has provided a strong foundation to reinforce our long-term objective of encouraging the Shuar Nation in its goal of independent development and management of sustainable activities, aligned with their way of life and culture.

Early in 2012, to advance this objective, we updated our agreement with the Shuar Federation. We will invest $200,000 in 2012 in operating funds and co-operative projects designed to:

  • Further enhance the organizational competencies of the Federation; 
  • Strengthen understanding of the ancestral foundations of the Shuar culture;
  • Consolidate economic development knowledge through the development of a sustainable Shuar Federation-owned and operated business; and
  • Complete an assessment of local education infrastructure to support future planning.

In alignment with government policy, all of our social development activities in Ecuador, including the projects we support under the Shuar agreement, are determined within the context of national development plans for the southern region of Ecuador. The agreement establishes a stakeholder committee, which is charged with approving the plans under each component of the agreement, and following up to ensure effective implementation.

The following lists specific projects and their beneficiaries under the Agreement between FDN and Shuar Federation of Zamora Chinchipe:



Construction of a classroom in San Andrés Shuar community 18 children
Construction of a dining room for the Waats Shuar community 15 children
Delivery of training materials for schools 38 schools
Shuar dictionaries 3,000 units
Printing of 2,000 educational Kichwa brochures 900 Kichwa children

Home improvement

Construction and improvement of family houses 64 families
Construction and improvement of water systems 432 families
Construction of rural restrooms 10 families
Opening of third order roads 18 communities


Construction of ancestral medicinal plant nurseries 40 nurseries

Cultural Support

Ethno Cultural Centre Construction 5,000 beneficiaries
Support for ancient games of the Shuar nationality 5,000 beneficiaries

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