Best Practice Mining in Colombia


Conclusion: Environmental and Social Governance



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8. Conclusion: Environmental and Social Governance


Conclusions for the short term are:


  • Mining corporations should pre-qualify before they seek mining licenses. This would encourage better corporations and deter those with weak records.




  • Environmental and social and impact assessment (ESIA), the main tool to distinguish high- impact projects from low-impact projects, needs to be employed more frequently and made more reliable.




  • Now that Ingeominas has been removed from the mining permitting process, its successor, ANCLA, must promote Inter-Agency coordination, public participation, FPIC, transparency, insist on prequalification, improve ESIA, foster compliance with the prevention and mitigation plans, and make meaningful performance bonds and insurance the standard norm. There still is great scope for ensuring all mining taxes and royalties are kept at meaningful levels and that miners fully report them and pay them with transparency.

Environmental governance transcends the limits of both the former Ingeominas, now ANCLA, and the Ministry of Environment. Impacted people must be routinely involved, FPIC should become the norm, and supervision to foster compliance must be tightened. Instituting best practices reduces violence, promotes democracy, reduces bureaucracy, and reduces costs.


Ultimately GoC’s approach to mining should be part of a broader approach to environmental governance that would cut across all domains of the state. The justification for making environmental governance an issue of statewide strategic importance is that environmental vulnerability is a profound source of human and political insecurity in Colombia, as well as an issue of central importance to human welfare (arguably more so here than in many countries). The creation of a fully-fledged Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, and of ANCLA, and the stripping of all permitting processes from Ingeominas are encouraging steps to reduce social and environmental impacts of mining.
While there should indeed be a focal point for accountability and responsibility for regulation of mining, the government as a whole needs to be involved as well. Environmental governance transcends the limits of the national government, and involves state, private, and civil society organizations. Local and national authorities (e.g., Ingeominas, CARs, ANCLA, Ministerio de Ambiente, Ministerio de Justicia) must comply with the Constitutional Court Order 005 of 2009 and the Sentence 1405-A that clearly define the ways and mechanisms to ensure remedies to the illegal mining and protect communities’ and leaders’ lives and rights. Ultimately a successful strategy of environmental governance will require that these different agencies share the same basic principles of an environmental agenda. These principles should hinge on the reduction of environmental vulnerability and environmentally related social vulnerability.
________

Acknowledgments: I am most grateful to Marianne Moor and Julia Van der Hoeven of Ikv Pax Christi for inviting me to participate in the Controlaria General’s forum. I am also grateful for the Controlaria General’s excellent papers on environment and mining in Colombia through the years, especially their December 2011 annual report to Congress. Robert Moran, Mary Paden, Peace Brigades International, Guillermo Rudas-Lleras, and Viviane Weitzner of NSI, helped considerably with earlier drafts. The many mistakes are entirely my own.
About the Author: Robert Goodland served as the World Bank Group’s environmental adviser for 23 years, after which he was the Technical Director of the independent Extractive Industry Review of the World Bank’s oil, gas and mining portfolio (EIR.org). He was elected chair of the Ecological Society of America (Metropolitan), and President of the International Association for Impact Assessment. Last year he was awarded IUCN’s Coolidge Medal for outstanding lifetime achievement in environmental conservation. Recent month have been spent helping the Government of El Salvador with its possible metal mining moratorium, and acting as the lead judge in the tribunal concerning Guatemala’s gold mine.

Sources of Further Information and Literature Cited

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1 The World Coal Institute.

2 Some of the pros and cons of this change are outlined in: /www.razonpublica.com/index.php/econom-y-sociedad-temas-29/2490-nuevo-ministerio-de-ambiente-y-desarrollo-sostenible-licenciamiento-ambiental.


3 Ley 1444 de 2011 y el Decreto 3570.


4 Though it remains the most unequal country in income distribution in South America, and near the worst in the world, according to: www.economist.com/node/18587127.


5 About 200 mining companies, especially from Australia and Canada arived in Colombia since 2003.

6 The final 2003 report of the independent Extractive Industries Review (www.eireview.org) entitled “Striking a Better Balance” (6 vols) contains best-practice guidelines for the extraction of oil, gas, and minerals. As does Goodland, 2003. Sustainable Development Sourcebook for the World Bank Group's Extractive Industries Review: Examining the Social and Environmental Impacts of Oil, Gas and Mining. Washington DC: World Bank, 189 pp.


7 The rich and extensive history of warfare sparked by mining conflicts is well exemplified by the people impacted by Rio Tinto’s Panguna copper mine on Bougainville Island, Papua new Guinea in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which led to the mine being closed. One of the most egregious cases is recounted in Baumgardt 2006 Chapter 20: 483-516. Thousands of Indigenous People have died at Broken Hill Proprietary-Billiton’s (now BHPB) copper mine, which has polluted vast areas irreversibly. Details at: BHP Billiton Watch (2010), Threatening lives, the environment and people’s future, BHP Shadow Report, bhpbillitonwatch.net/bhpbilliton/ bhp-shadow-report- shining-a-light-on-revenue-flows.


8 The most recent case is the opposition, led by Parish Priest Father José Reinel Restrepo, of the 1,200 citizens of the town of Marmato to forced resettlement by Canada’s Medoro Resources. He was killed in September 2011. On September 15, MiningWatch, a Canadian organization that keeps track of mining companies, sent an open letter to the Canadian Embassy in Bogotá, expressing concern that Canadian mining companies “may well be aggravating or benefiting from violence.”


9 Based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly in 2007, and now ratified by most nations, including Colombia, Canada, USA, and Australia. The international Labor Organization (ILO) and the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights support free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). FPIC should be the guiding principle of all economic development. The absence of consent is coercion. The use of force in developing a project is no longer acceptable. For example, involuntary resettlement means force is being used to promote development, which is now unacceptable.


10 A comparison with Costa Rica is illustrative. Canada’s Infinito Gold (aka Vanessa Ventures) project would destroy 500 acres of rainforest in the UN Agua y Paz Biosphere Reserve and threatens the San Juan River shared with Nicaragua, with an open pit mine. Lengthy community pressure failed to deter Infinito. A community march from San Jose to the mine site and a hunger strike led to the courts annulling Infinito’s Las Crucitas contract in November 2010. In January 2011, Infinito filed an appeal with the Supreme Court’s Civil and Administrative Law Branch against the landmark court ruling in November that struck down the company’s open-pit gold mining project at Las Crucitas. The government of Costa Rica issued a decree in May 2010 imposing an indefinite moratorium on all forms of gold mining. The moratorium will apply to gold metal “exploration, exploitation and benefitting from materials extracted using cyanide or mercury.” Laura Chinchilla, the new president, thus “closed the door to other mining projects which were being reviewed for approval.” Small-scale artisanal and underground mining not using cyanide or mercury may be exempted.


11 americasquarterly. org/node/3040

12 In July, 2010, the documentary film on coal entitled “Energiebedrijven medeplichtig aan moord’ (‘Energy companies dependent on death’ in English, or ‘Carbon manchado de Sangre’ in Spanish), was shown in the Netherlands’ TV channel Netwerk. Stark realities of the conflicts in Colombia and its links with coal, outraged the Dutch public, and fuelled intense debate in Parliament on holding companies to account, and making transparent the strife behind the coal fuelling electricity generation. Consumers in Holland and others are pushing certification as a means to ensure products are fairly produced and traded. (See: Weitzner, 2012).


13 For example: MPX contracted Leyla Rojas, ex-viceminister of Water since 2010, as their legal chief. Diana Zapata Pérez, ex- director de environmental licensing of the Ministry is now on MPX’s team, as is Adriana Rodríguez, the Minister’s ex-advisor. Ingeominas’s director, Julián Villarruel, switched to AngloGold Ashanti, which has 550.000 hectres of mining titles and has applied for 2,000,000 ha. more. Ex-Chancellor, María Consuelo Araújo is now President of Gran Colombia Gold Company, now merged with Medoro. Gloria Lucía Álvarez, formerly director of CAR of Cundinamarca (2007), has become AngloGold Ashanti’s new legal advisor. Ex-Mines Minister, Hernán Martínez, is on Medoro Resources Board (www.kienyke.com/2011/07/15/).


14 Based on SINAP: Sistema Nacional de Areas Protegidas, IUCN, The Forest Stewardship Council, and the World Bank Group definitions of sensitive areas and high conservation value areas. See also: “World Heritage and Mining” IUCN/ICME. Plse add to bibliography


15 For example, Canadian Cosigo Resources was granted a mining title just two days after the official creation of the 2.6 million acre National Park “Yaigojé Apaporis” in Vaupes, and Amazonas – a matter now being adjudicated by the attorney general's office – and it appears that the company is behind 23 other applications for mining exploration around Yaigojé Apaporis, which is a national park and an official Indigenous Reserve. www.gaiafoundation.org/.../yaigojé-apaporis-endangered-gold-mining. The public prosecutor has filed disciplinary processes against eight public officials from Ingeominas who granted the concession. www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=11057.


16 In March 2011, Colombia rejected Greystar Resources Ltd. proposed $1 billion gold/silver mine, because of environmental concerns and the fact that it is in a critical watershed, according to Mines and Energy Minister Carlos Rodado.


179 Canadian mining company Eco Oro (formerly Greystar) redesigned the Angostura gold and silver mining project to become an underground-only operation. The announcement was made following the decision to withdraw its open-pit proposal, due to protests that the project may harm water resources that supply 2.2 million inhabitants. According to Business News Americas, the Angostura projects were to have processing plants located at between 11,000 and 12,500 feet above sea level for their open-pit mine. Areas above 10,000 feet are considered by Colombian law to be "paramos," neotropical ecosystems where mining is prohibited. At the same time, the La Colosa mining project funded by South African company AngloGold Ashanti has faced setbacks due to violations of local water regulations. The La Colosa project will be delayed until 2018, two years later than the planned completion date of 2016. It is also set to cost much more than originally expected, costing $3.5 billion instead of the previously expected $2.7 billion. Commenting on the projects, Colombia's Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Frank Pearl said, "In each case, we will go into depth; we will have a direct dialogue with the communities and the private sector to determine what standards - if they are possible - will be used in these projects and in this economic activity." On October 14, some 10,000 people marched in protest against the La Colosa mine project for its exploitation of Colombian land by multinationals. See colombiareports.com/colombia-news/economy/19908-colombia-mining-projects-delayed

18 A more complete treatment of the exceptionally useful tool of ESA in rejecting high-impact mining proposals and promoting low-impact proposals may be found in: Goodland, R. 2008. www.accessinitiative.org/ .../environmental-and-social-assessment-memo: 54 pp.




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