No more first come, first served for granting mining concessions in Colombia

Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, announced yesterday that the country will be issuing a new mining code to boost the industry and reinforce control of illegal mining, reports local newspaper El Universal.

As a first measure, Colombia's government has defined 313 strategic mineral areas totalling 2.9Mha and located in 15 departments, said Santos.

Mining permits in the country currently cover 5Mha, so the new mining zones are equivalent to 60% of what is currently assigned for mining development.

According to Mines and Energy (Minminas) minister Mauricio Cardenas, the zones will be awarded through a selection processes that will encourage healthy competition in the sector, allowing for the development of projects of all sizes that comply with the with the standards of social and environmental responsibility.

Cardenas added that this would eliminate the traditional first-come, first-served system for granting concessions.

"We're doing away with the Ingeominas [now the national geological service] system and replacing it with objective criteria that are backed by the national mines agency," Cárdenas said.

"All the work we've been doing helps us send a powerful message for investor confidence," Santos said, adding that Colombia has plenty of space for large-scale miners that are willing to work in favour of the country's development.