Artisanal miners’ strike impacts Colombian town

Local businesses have joined a general strike started six days ago by at least 10,000 artisanal and ancestral miners operating in the Colombian towns of Segovia and Remedios, located in the northern Antioquia department.

The action has left many residents, used to buy groceries for the day, struggling to find food and supplies.

Remedios Mayor Lucía Carvajal told El Tiempo newspaper that a huge chunk of the population “didn’t have enough money to stock themselves at the local stores and they are currently facing a very difficult situation.”

Carvajal also said that even though roads are not blocked, inter-municipal buses are not going in or out of Segovia and Remedios.

The general strike is part of a series of actions that began back in September 2016, when artisanal miners decided to oppose expansion plans by Zandor Capital, a subsidiary of Canadian-based Gran Colombia Gold.

However, they are also rallying against Bill 169 from 2016 whose goal, they say, is to eradicate artisanal mining.

Protesters also reject Decree 142 enacted by the Ministry of Mining and Energy on September 1, 2016, which requires small processing plants to obtain a registration with the Colombian government and an environmental license, and to only process and sell gold with a proper certificate of origin.

By publication time, the Mining Table was holding a meeting with officials from the Federal Government, Gran Colombia Gold, Antioquia’s Ministries of Interior and Mines, the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Ombudsman.