* BHP has 11% stake in SolGold
* Government seeking to attract investment to mining sector
* Activists concerned about environment, water
LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Ecuador’s constitutional court has rejected a petition for local consultation on a mining ban in a province in southern Ecuador, following a ruling covering a northern province and allowing copper miner SolGold to press ahead with exploration.
In June, the constitutional court ruled against a request to require community consultations for a planned copper and gold mine at Cascabel, potentially one of Ecuador’s biggest mining projects to date.
In a statement on Thursday, SolGold said the constitutional court had also has ruled against a petition to seek local consultation on banning mining within the province of Azuay, southern Ecuador.
Its shares were 5% higher at 0720 GMT.
The province of Azuay contains SolGold’s 100% owned Sharug project, which SolGold says has considerable potential to be “a world class orebody”.
“This decision, in conjunction with the previously rejected petition of a similar nature in the Imbabura province in northern Ecuador, sets a strong precedent for any future petitions for consultation to consider changes to the constitution of Ecuador,” SolGold said in a statement.
It said it continued to work closely with the Ecuadorean government and with local communities to create a sustainable and responsible mining industry in Ecuador.
In its ruling in June, the court said such a popular consultation was incompatible with the Andean country’s laws.
Activists have expressed concern about Cascabel’s impact on the environment and sources of drinking water.
President Lenin Moreno is seeking to boost foreign investment in Ecuador to spur the country’s sluggish economy and wean dependence on crude oil exports after a decade of populist rule under leftist predecessor Rafael Correa.
In October last year, the world’s biggest miner BHP nearly doubled its stake in SolGold to around 11%. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by David Evans)