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Gran Colombia Gold faces production halt amid labour war

The Marmato project, located in the Caldas department, Colombia.

“On Friday we won’t have stock if this doesn’t end,” Gran Colombia Gold’s CEO Lombardo Paredes warned today.

Speaking to Bloomberg from Bogotá, Paredes explained that small-scale miners operating inside the company’s concession in the Department of Antioquia have been blocking roads since Monday, an action that has prevented workers from reaching the main mining complex and that is costing the company $2 million in daily losses.

Gran Colombia is the largest underground gold and silver producer in Colombia. Its 2016 output target of 145,000 oz to 150,000 oz of gold may become unreachable if protests continue throughout the rest of the week. The company is still producing gold from stockpiles, but Paredes says they will soon run out.

According to W Radio, 15,000 artisanal miners have been protesting since September 19th against expansion plans led by Zandor Capital, a subsidiary of Gran Colombia Gold. They are also against the closure of 120 pitheads imposed by Decree 1421 enacted on September 1st by the Ministry of Mining and Energy. The edict also requires small processing plants to obtain a registration with the Colombian government and an environmental license, and to only process and sell gold with a proper certificate of origin.

Miners say that both the government and the Canadian-based giant don’t have the will to find a middle ground and negotiate the conditions and timeframe of the process of formalizing illegal mining.

But Gran Colombia stated in a press release that they complied with the calendar of meetings established by the Mining Table of the towns of Segovia and Remedios, where its operations are located.

Given this breakdown in talks, the Governor of Antioquia Luis Pérez has asked the federal government for help in finding a solution to the crisis.