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PDAC 2022: Colombia pushes diversification of mining sector as presidential vote looms

Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy Diego Mesa Puyo at PDAC 2022. Credit: Government of Colombia

Just ahead of a runoff presidential election in Colombia that will determine current president Iván Duque’s successor, The Northern Miner caught up with the country’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Diego Mesa Puyo at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention on June 13 in Toronto. 

Colombia has been trying to diversify its mining sector away from thermal coal, and Mesa has overseen the launch of copper and phosphate “strategic mining areas” — high-potential areas that the government identifies and opens up for bidding — since early 2021. At PDAC, he announced the launch of the country’s first strategic mining areas for gold, opening up four blocks of claims in the department of Antioquia for bidding.  

But the June 19 runoff election is looming large in the minds of miners. President Duque is ineligible to run for reelection due to term limits in Colombia. No clear winner was established in a first-round presidential vote on May 29 — and leading in the polls is leftist candidate (and former guerrilla) Gustavo Petro. Petro has promised not to issue new oil and gas exploration permits and also to ban open pit mining. 

Mesa, who has been minister for two years (and before that, deputy minister for two years as part of Duque’s pro-business government) sat down with The Northern Miner to discuss the mining-related accomplishments of Duque’s government and the direction of the country’s mining sector going forward. 

(Continue reading at The Northern Miner)