Ecuador says mining exports nearly doubled in value in 2021 to $2 bln

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Heavy duty equipment is seen during a ceremony marking the start of construction of a mine owned by Chinese mining company EcuaCorriente in el Pangui, Ecuador December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja/File Photo

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QUITO, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Ecuador's mining exports in 2021 nearly doubled in value from the previous year to $2.09 billion, beating government expectations, the Ministry of Energy said on Wednesday.

President Guillermo Lasso, a conservative ex-banker, is betting on mining to diversify the country's income streams, as it struggles with limited liquidity worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mining exports in 2021 were "99% more than what was exported in 2020, when a value of $1.05 billion was registered," the ministry said in a statement.

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The government originally projected that mining exports would be worth $1.6 billion last year.

The 2021 figure places mining as the country's fourth largest source of export income behind oil, bananas and shrimp.

Oil prices on international markets have recovered strongly from a collapse in demand at the height of pandemic lockdowns in 2020, and other commodities have also rebounded as economies across the world have gathered pace.

Ecuador has significant mineral resources, but has lagged regional competitors Peru and Chile in large-scale mine development.

Big resource companies, including Chinese consortium CRCC-Tongguan and Canada's Lundin Gold, operate in Ecuador, but many mining projects have faced community opposition, including occupation by informal miners.

The government expects three new projects in the centre of the country to raise the value of mining exports to $4 billion by 2025, Wednesday's statement said.

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Reporting by Alexandra Valencia Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; editing by Barbara Lewis

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