Australia's miners 'missing in action' in Colombia

Australia’s resource houses are “missing in action” in Latin America’s third largest economic powerhouse – Colombia – and should move post haste to rapidly lift their engagement with the mineral rich province.

Addressing today the second and final day of the Paydirt 2016 Latin America Downunder conference in Perth, Colombian Mining Association President, Santiago Angel Urdinola, said Colombia is consistently reporting growth rates of 3% or more.

“We see in our FDI principally investments from Europe, the United States and Canada – but not Australia,” Mr Urdinola said.

“Yet there is substantial opportunity for Australia to come into and operate safely in mining in Colombia – a country ‘chock full’ of minerals,” Mr Urdinola said.

“What we have particularly is a very well established mining industry and we outperform our peers – behind just Chile and Peru in our mining investment attractiveness and Australia would understand that environment.

“We have never defaulted on a foreign investment, we operate our mining industry to world’s best practice and we have big international players in our resources mix.

“Colombia particularly has geological competency and we have recognised and acted on the need to do a fair job on mining regulation.”

Mr Urdinola said Australia could help particular mentor junior explorers and miners coming into Colombia as Australia had the skills, expertise and experience from its own domestic and international mining profile to make those factors part of any new partnership with Colombia’s miners.

“Colombia is, among other commodities, prioritizing its coal and copper profile and they are minerals in which Australia’s resources sector is massively skilled,” he said.

“While it is not easy to have everything ’on the same page’, we want Australia in our mining sector and to that end are working through how to increase our competitiveness and appeal, guarantee legal certainty, minimise red tape procedures,  improve our sector’s reputation and boost the overall productive chain.”

Colombia currently has in place 21 international agreements for protection of investments, and 11 double taxation agreements intended to eliminate or reduce these issues for foreign investors.

Mining exports currently represent 18% of Colombia’s total exports with coal accounting for 65% of that trade.

The country is the world’s first largest producer of emeralds but is also rich in coal, gold, silver, platinum, nickel, iron, salt and limestone.