Canadian miner kidnapped in Colombia set free

The vice-president of exploration for Canadian gold exploration firm Braeval Mining Corp., kidnapped in January by Colombian rebels, has been released Tuesday.

Gernot Wober, 47, was held captive by the National Liberation Army, known for its Spanish acronym ELN, which is Colombia's second most powerful rebel group.

The executive is in good health and currently being transported to the city of Barrancabermeja, north of Bogota, reports Canadian Press.

Wober’s release comes on the heels of Braeval Mining’s decision to give up an option to acquire a mining area in northern Colombia, where the geologist was captured.

MINING.com reported last year that armed rebels were tightening control over gold mining in the South American country.

A recent study by political risk firm Exclusive Analysis says that a new generation of drug gangs (known locally as “Bacrims”) has joined Colombian armed rebels, such as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), turning to gold mining to finance their terrorist acts.

According to the experts, funds coming from mining operations are now the main income source for the revolutionary groups. In some provinces, he added, it has overtaken drug trafficking, especially in areas controlled by the FARC.

Colombia’s economy, Latin America’s fifth largest, has grown four times faster than Canada’s in recent years, with foreign investment quadrupling between 2002 and 2008.

The country holds vast and, until now, untapped natural resources of coal, gold, silver and oil. The government has been taking a number of measures to boost the sector, which currently accounts for only 2% of Colombia's economy. However, much of these are in areas where the FARC has a strong presence.

Image by Military Photos