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Colombian Ministry of Mines announces wetlands protection from open pit mining
Bogotá, Colombia – Colombia has signaled it will halt construction of one of the world’s largest open-pit gold and other metals mine. In a surprisingly bold step March 17, Colombia’s Minister of Mines Carlos Rodado announced “Pursuant to Colombian law, mining projects cannot be developed in wetlands areas.” If enforced, this would prevent construction of the massive Angostura mine in the Santander department, on the Santurban paramo.
"This is an important step in fulfilling Colombia’s obligations to its constitution and international wetlands protections,” said Natalia Jiménez Galindo, AIDA's legal adviser in Bogotá. “The State should refrain from approving any phase of the Angostura project, including any additional infrastructure."
If built, the Angostura mine would jeopardize the Santurban paramo, a sensitive high-altitude wetland that supply freshwater to more than 1 million people in nearby communities. In collaboration with various partners, AIDA has advocated for the protection of the paramo ecosystems against mining and provided related legal advice to organizations and sending to the authorities an analysis on the international law applicable.
“We applaud the Ministry of Mines for recognizing the prohibition against mining in paramos and we expect this will be reflected in an official decision” said Astrid Puentes Co- Director of AIDA. “This will send a strong message from the Government that it is truly interested in protecting paramos and making a difference in climate change”.
AIDA calls upon the Colombian government to formally reject the entire Angostura mine project as proposed by Greystar Resources Corporation of Canada. This is the only decision consistent with the norms, the pronouncement by the Ministry of Mines and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute concept.