Colombian miners brace for environmental crackdown

Colombia, known for its vast reserves of coal, oil, emeralds, gold and copper, has seen its resource sector grow over the past decade.

Not only did mining exports in the first three months of the year jump 44% from the same period in 2021 to $3.75 billion, the best result in a decade. The industry is also on track to bring in a record 8.8 trillion pesos ($2.2 billion) in taxes and royalties in 2022, according to the Colombian Mining Association (ACM).

Assuming the new president does not revamp the sector, Colombia’s mining revenue would jump 69% this year from the previous 2021 record of 5.2 trillion pesos, the association said last weekattributing the price increase to the projected increase.

Petro, the 62-year-old left-wing candidate, is running on a platform which proposes sweeping changes to the country’s economic model to tackle one of the highest rates of inequality in the world.

Petro said that under his administration, coal and oil reserves will remain buried, while his government will seek ways to finance the decarbonization of the country’s economy.

He also promised to ban large-scale surface mining and freeze oil and gas licensing.

The candidate, who will be the first leftist president in Colombia’s history if he wins in June, wants the state to take control of all watersheds earmarked for energy production and mining projects .

RELATED: Colombia to Submit Gold and Coal Assets by End of June

Petro, which won 40% of the vote, also pledged to strengthen environmental, social and fiscal controls over ongoing mining operations.

He said he would protect artisanal and small-scale miners, while making big companies accountable for environmental responsibilities, including land rehabilitation and cleaning up water sources.

Petro’s second-round rival will be billionaire Hernández, the self-proclaimed ‘King of TikTok’ who has taken a confrontational stance with mainstream media, drawing comparisons to that of former US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. .

Almost half of the artisanal miners active in El Chocó are women. (Image courtesy of the Better Gold Initiative (BGI) of Switzerland.)

When it comes to mining, Hernández is less precise than Petro. The 77-year-old, who won 28% of the vote, said he would hold multinationals accountable to the same standards that they must follow in their country of origin. At the same time, he wants to attract investment to the sector with clear authorization rules, including strategic meetings with communities to close a project.

Hernández also wants to amend the Penal Code to include environmental damage, including public health risks, as a crime.

It proposes a special protection plan for the Colombian Amazon and the country’s biodiversity-rich areas, which today are affected by illegal mining and deforestation.

About William J. Harris

Check Also

Anacortes Mining Provides Update on Tres Cruces Drilling Program

Hole ATC-501 designed to test sulphides at a drilled depth of 496.3m Vancouver, British Columbia–(Newsfile …