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Ecuador president vows to push large-scale mining

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ecuador's re-elected President Rafael Correa said Saturday he will push large-scale mining projects during his next four years in office, despite opposition from some indigenous groups.

"The Ecuadoran people have voted to responsibly take advantage of non-renewable resources," said in a weekly address on his administration's activities.

Correa, a socialist, said his goal was to use the country's mining and oil wealth to eliminate poverty and said he was committed to "the Amazonian people and all the areas where there is mining or oil."

A year ago, Correa's government signed a contract with the Chinese company Ecuacorriente to mine copper in the Amazon basin province of Zamora-Chinchipe, in a major move to open the country to large-scale mining.

The country's largest indigenous organization opposed the deal, however, and with the backing of opposition groups led a two-week-long protest march from the Amazon to Quito.

But Correa, who has been in power since 2007, won re-election last week in a landslide, with 56.77 percent of the vote, and he used his speech Saturday to criticize opponents of big mining.

"To hurt the government, they are hurting the country, the poor, that Amazonian region," Correa said, adding that "we are not with the multinationals, we are with the poor."

"We cannot be beggars sitting in front of a bag of gold," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130223/ecuador-president-vows-push-large-scale-mining