AngloGold Ashanti’s Proposed Copper Mine in Jerico, Antioquia Hits Another Regulatory Snag
Colombia’s National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) announced October 25 that it has decided to shelve — at least for now, pending further studies – AngloGold Ashanti’s proposed copper/gold mine in Jerico, Antioquia, even despite 75% favorability for the project among the citizens in-and-around Jerico.
“With the analysis of the information on file, which was collected in the field visits and the concepts of other entities, the ANLA technical team established that it is not possible to issue a substantive decision on the request for the environmental license of the mining project, so it has to be archived,” according to the official ANLA bulletin.
“The main technical considerations that led to the ordering of the [shelving of the project] file by the Authority are related to the definition of the area-of-influence, the characterization of the hydrogeological, hydrological, geotechnical and biotic components, considerations regarding the tailings deposit (residues from mining activity) and subsidence, among others.
“This evaluation process included professionals from different disciplines, experts in hydrogeology, hydrology, geotechnics, geochemistry, ecology, air quality and socioeconomic issues, among others.
“During this environmental procedure, more than 211 third parties have been recognized to date, guaranteeing citizen participation and access to information on the environmental licensing process to the communities surrounding the project during the evaluation process,” ANLA concluded.
AngloGold Ashanti Response
Reacting to the disappointing announcement, AngloGold Ashanti Colombia this morning issued the following press bulletin:
“AngloGold Ashanti Colombia specifies that, to date, the company has not received any official notification from the environmental authority regarding the evolution of the licensing process.
“To the extent that a [ANLA] press release does not constitute, in any way, legal notification of any administrative act, it is not possible to pronounce on a decision-to-archive, the details of which are unknown.
“It is relevant to specify that the [project shelving] file is one of three possible responses to an environmental license request, namely: approval, denial or archive-the-file. The file is a decision that implies that the authority considers that it is not possible to rule on the merits of the license application and allows space to resubmit the license application, once the alleged missing information is completed and submitted, to a new evaluation by the authority.
“At AngloGold Ashanti we have the peace of mind and pride of having a rigorous and exhaustive Environmental Impact Study, with analyses carried out with the accompaniment of more than 27 expert external consulting firms, for more than 14 years, in a judicious and open process of dialogue. with the communities and different stakeholders of the Quebradona project, as well as having given a timely and sufficient response to each and every one of the 174 requests for additional information that were requested by ANLA at the time.
“Proof of the above is that the Minera de Cobre Quebradona project already has all the other permits and licenses required to begin its execution, including the environmental subtraction permit granted by Corantioquia and the approval of the PTO [‘Programa de Trabajos y Obras’ (Works-and-Tasks Program)] by the Ministry of Mines of the Department. Likewise, the relationship of trust and approval by the community currently has a favorable level of close to 75%. The environmental license is the last step to be issued.
“We regret that the ANLA has exceeded all the time-lines as required under the law to pronounce itself and we insist that, once the ANLA notifies us in the terms established in the law, only at that moment will we proceed to analyze the details of the decision and the argumentation that for law must accompany it.
“AngloGold Ashanti ratifies its determined commitment to continue in the country and fulfill its purpose of converting mineral wealth into environmental, social and economic development for the southwest of Antioquia and for the country. Neither the authorities, nor the communities, nor the mining companies can allow Colombia to miss the opportunity to advance in a better use of its natural resource potential and include sustainable and responsible mining as an essential part of its exports,” the company concluded.