Cerrejón, Colombian Indigenous community launch agreement over environmental concerns

Dialogue table between Cerrejón and the community of Provincial. (Image courtesy of Cerrejón).

Colombian coal mine Cerrejón informed of the launching of a previously announced agreement with the Wayuu Indigenous community of Provincial, in the northern La Guajira department.

According to Cerrejón, which is owned by BHP Group, Anglo American and Glencore, 16 traditional authorities, the town council governor of the Provincial Indigenous Reservation, and the mine, kicked off the activities contemplated in the agreement with an open dialogue and traditional ceremonies.

The deal was reached on March 1, 2021, and followed the issuing of Ruling T – 614 by the country’s Constitutional Court ordering Cerrejón to comply with requirements aimed at protecting the health and environment of the Provincial community. The Court’s decision took into account a previous call by the United Nations Special Rapporteur, who asked the government to suspend some of the mine’s operations because they were causing pollution, dust, noise, water use and health problems.

Cerrejón has been operating for 30 years

The implementation of the agreement involves building and endowing a new health centre in Provincial, an environmental rehabilitation program in different areas of the Reservation, and the creation of a nursery expected to produce 100,000 plants per year and generate income for the community.

“Within the actions defined by the Court, Cerrejón will establish a cleaning program for the next five years in community facilities and nearby areas, along with a commitment to provide technical support to the community in defining air quality standards applicable to the Reservation,” the miner said in a media statement. “The latter will be done with the support of an expert and in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development.”

Built 30 years ago, Cerrejón is an integrated mining and transportation complex that includes an open-pit mine, a 150-kilometre railway line and a Caribbean port. In 2020, the mine produced 12.4 million tonnes of coal, almost 52% less than the output it registered the year before.