Colombia’s new mining policy to be water-focused

Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez. (Image by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Twitter.)

Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Irene Vélez, said that the country’s new mining policy will consider reorganizing the country’s development areas around the conservation of water resources.

During the National Mining Summit, which gathered over 1,500 people connected to the mining sector this weekend in Bogotá, the minister noted that the elements of the new policy are being developed based on a series of townhalls that Congress, together with her office and other relevant cabinet portfolios, held with the private sector, artisanal miners and communities in the area of influence of mining operations. 

Vélez also said that the ministry aims to develop a geoscientific knowledge plan that will guide the decision-making process related to extractive industries.

The new mining policy is expected to be presented before parliament within the next six months.

Mining code blasted

At the same meeting, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Susana Muhamad, blasted Colombia’s current mining code, which was created in 2001 during the conservative government of Andrés Pastrana.

According to Muhamad, the existing code is lacking when it comes to environmental protection and favours the interests of international companies over the needs of local communities and the overall usufruct of Colombia’s mineral resources.

“It promotes the devastation of our land and a lack of recognition of ancestral and traditional miners who, for decades, worked as part of an integral societal context,” she said. “The mining code condemned traditional mining to be illegal and by doing so, it ended up in the hands of illicit capitals and armed groups, developing in areas of violence and destruction.”

Muhamad emphasized the urgent need to redefine where it is possible to develop mining operations and where such activities should be forbidden. 

“It is time to reverse this situation, and it is also time for justice to be done regarding the titles legally granted in areas where they should not have been granted because they violated communities’ access to clean water and led to the displacement of these populations,” she said.