Thursday, September 21, 2017

Written by September 20 2017 0

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Medellin-based gold-mining giant Mineros SA jointly announced September 20 that they’re boosting funds and technical aid to formerly artisanal or illegal miners in the Bajo Cauca region of Antioquia.

“The productive and commercial capacity of beekeepers of Bajo Cauca will be strengthened thanks to the agreement established between USAID and Fundacion Mineros SA, and the Association of Beekeepers of Bajo Cauca and the South of Bolivar (Asapibas), through the ‘Oro Legal’ [Legal Gold] program,” according to the agency.

Funding for the program now tops COP$2 billion (US$692,000).

“The direct beneficiaries are 88 families from Asapibas, who contributed with the initial assembly of the core [beekeeping] laboratories. In the first phase of the project they were given tools, elements of protection, inputs, technical assistance and training. In a second phase they will receive a certain number of hives to expand their apicola [bee-honey] production units.

“The goal is for each family to have at least 45 populated hives, which will allow them to generate monthly income of between one and two minimum wages,” which in Colombia is COP$738,000/month or about US$255 today.

The “Oro Legal” project organizers first established two test laboratories for the production of biological cores -- in the Naranjal village of the municipality of Zaragoza and the second lab in the village of Bocas de la Llana, municipality of El Catre .

“These laboratories will be responsible for supplying the bee population to 3,180 hives, which will be delivered to families for the production of honey and other by-products,” according to USAID.

“The Mineros S.A. Foundation for its part provided the premises for the assembly of the laboratories, professionals for installation, specialized advice with experts from the Universidad Nacional and the business strengthening program ‘Avanza,’ in addition to the assembly of an associative plot for a laboratory adjacent to the mine La Ye.

“In addition to receiving materials and supplies for the apiaries, the beneficiaries were trained in the production of apitoxin, pollen and propolis, by-products of the hive that will represent additional [income] resources," according to the agency.

“Before, I worked as a barequero [informal gold miner],” added Juan David Pedroza, a member of Asapibas. “Now that I know the world of bees, I bet on beekeeping. After training, I also got the opportunity to work as an extension technician on this project,” he added.

Written by September 05 2017 0

Toronto, Canada-based Gran Colombia Gold announced September 5 that a violent strike by illegal gold miners in the Antioquian municipalities of Segovia and Remedios is finally over – benefitting more than 2,500 legal miners affiliated with the company.

The 42-days-long strike resulted in several deaths, widespread vandalism and economic suffering for thousands of residents in the area.

“We are pleased to see the civil strike in Segovia and Remedios has been lifted and we can get back on track with our 2017 operating and capital plan,” said Gran Colombia CEO Lombardo Paredes.

“Through our commitment to economic development in Segovia and Remedios, we will incorporate additional small mining collectives into our contract mining model, which will allow continued operation of ancestral mining within our title in accordance with the government’s requirements for health, safety and environmental responsibility.

“Although our production in August [during the strike] was below normal, we continue to expect that we will meet our annual production guidance for 2017 of 150,000 to 160,000 ounces of gold,” Paredes added.

Over the next few months, Gran Colombia “will negotiate specific operating contracts with each of the mining collectives based on general terms agreed to last Friday [September 1] between the Ministry of Mines, the Governor of Antioquia, the Mayors of Segovia and Remedios, the Mesa Minera and the company,” according to the company.

“The monetary compensation under these new operating contracts will be established for each mining collective individually with the company retaining between 10% and 60% of the spot price for each ounce of gold produced. The contracts will also require that all ore is to be processed at the company’s Maria Dama plant,” according to Gran Colombia.

Illegal miners in the strike area have been dumping toxic mercury into the environment as well as invading legal claim areas run by responsible miners (some of which are multinationals). Violent criminal groups also sometimes ally with these illegal miners in return for extorsion payments.

Many illegal miners also objected to new government laws requiring permits and legalization, which will put a stop to mercury dumping. Others claim "ancestral" rights to mining -- even when such mining involves irresponsible invasion of legal mining operations that obey all environmental, tax and labor laws.

Continental Gold Launches ‘Future Harvest’

Meanwhile, fellow Toronto-based Continental Gold announced September 5 the launch of a “Future Harvest” program aiming to help mining families in western Antioquia diversify incomes and improve lives.

“Future Harvest is projected to directly benefit the communities of Buriticá, Santa Fe de Antioquia, Giraldo and Cañasgordas, which are all in the company’s direct area of influence,” according to the company.

“Continental Gold intends to contribute approximately US$370,000 of the total program investment of US$518,000,” according to the company.
The program involves 14 private and public entities “to advance the implementation of a self-sufficient sustainability strategy with productive agricultural business,” according to the company.

“The first seven business plans funded under Future Harvest include programs for cultivating coffee, plantains, poultry, garden produce, strawberries, as well as fish farming and fiber production.

“Each business plan was structured with the communities and local and regional institutions, taking into account local productive capacities, soil productivity and quality and other variables, while promoting efficient water resource management and the use of best agricultural practices to balance development with protecting ecosystems.

“Each business plan also features the development of an integrated rural program, ongoing training and the transfer of productive assets, as well as providing access to savings programs and support regarding consumption, which have been proven to result in significant and lasting improvements on the quality of life,” the company added.

Commenting on the program, Buriticá Mayor Humberto Castaño added: “Through responsible, legal and organized mining, we can generate income to transform our land. With Future Harvest, on the day mining operations finish, we can guarantee that there will be sustainable economic activity in the municipality.”

Written by August 24 2017 0

Medellin-based Compañía de Empaques – makers of fibers for industrial, agricultural, construction and infrastructure sectors – announced this month that its first-half (1H) net profits fell to COP$1.96 billion (US$662,000), compared to COP$13.5 billion (US$4.5 million) in 1H 2016.

While sales rose year-on-year -- to COP$193 billion (US$65 million) in 1H 2017 versus COP$179 billion (US$60 million) in 1H 2016 -- cost of sales rose considerably, to COP$160 billion (US$54 million) in 1H 2017 versus COP$142 billion (US$48 million) in 1H 2016, according to the company.

Compañía de Empaques boasts 75 years of experience in manufacturing specialty fibers for packing and storage of materials as well as for reinforcing materials used in mining and construction.

Written by August 24 2017 0

Medellin-based Enka de Colombia – producer of fibers and filaments including nylon and polyester - this month reported that its first-half (1H) 2017 net profits fell to COP$1.9 billion (US$641,000), down sharply from COP$9.3 billion (US$3 million ) in 1H 2016.

Sales also dropped year-on-year, to COP$84.8 billion (US$28.6 million) in 1H 2017, versus COP$92.5 billion (US$31 million) in 1H 2016.

The Enka plant, in the Medellin suburb of Girardota, also recycles PET plastic for tire manufacturers, plastics producers and textile producers.

Coltejer Losses Nearly Double

Meanwhile, Medellin-based textile manufacturer Coltejer this month reported that its 1H 2017 losses rose to COP$21.6 billion (US$7.3 million), compared to a COP$11.6 billion (US$3.9 million) loss in 1H 2017.

Sales also dropped sharply, to COP$72.8 billion (US$24.6 million), versus COP$122.8 billion (US$41 million) in 1H 2016.

Mexico-based Grupo Kaltex is the majority (82%) share owner of Coltejer.

Colombian textile producers have been complaining of a loss of sales this year due to continuing contraband clothing imports, a slowdown in the Colombian economy and a hike in value-added tax, which penalizes retail sales.

Written by August 24 2017 0

Medellin-based multinational personal hygiene products manufacturer Familia SA announced this month that its second quarter (2Q) 2017 net profits soared to COP$51 billion (US$17 million), up from a COP$51 billion (US$17 million) net loss in 2Q 2016.

Sales also rose in 2Q 2017, to COP$583 billion (US$196 million), versus COP$570 billion (US$191 million) in 2Q 2016, according to the company, which manufactures toilet paper, napkins, diapers, feminine hygiene products and other paper-based products for sale in 20 Latin American countries.

Grupo Familia was founded in 1958, initially as an importer of Scott toilet paper. But it now has four Colombian manufacturing plants -- in Medellin, Rionegro, Cajica, Cauca – a fifh plant in Aconcagua, Argentina, and a sixth plant in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Former employees involved in an alleged toilet-paper price-fixing scheme with other companies several years ago have since been fired. Familia also paid a COP$62 billion (US$20.8 million) fine last year to settle those charges.

 

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Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

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