Ecuador says could start mineral exports in 2012

QUITO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Ecuador could start exporting minerals in 2012 once the country’s nascent mining sector moves into production, President Rafael Correa said on Wednesday, predicting the industry will propel economic development.

Correa signed a mining law reform on Wednesday that could help clear the way for gold, copper and silver exploration to resume in the Andean country, setting the stage for production and eventual exportation.

“The exportation of minerals will probably begin in 2012,” Correa said during a public address on Wednesday. Exports will give development in the country a “decisive push”.

Ecuador's biggest mining projects -- involving Canadian firms Kinross Gold K.TO, Corriente Resource CTQ.TO and Iamgold IMG.TO -- have been paralyzed while the leftist government draws up rules to govern the sector aimed at giving the state more control over the country's natural resources.

Correa froze all major exploration operations in April of last year. (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Editing by Christian Wiessner)