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Published in general news Written by March 21 2020 0

Colombia President Ivan Duque announced late last night (March 20) that the coronavirus quarantine on nearly all people and vehicles (already effective in Medellin and Antioquia) will be extended nationally through the first minute of April 13.

“Essential activities, such as access to health services, purchase of food and medicine, access to banking and postal services, provision of essential public services and security services, among others, will be guaranteed” during the quarantine, President Duque added in a tweet shortly after midnight today (March 21).

Similarly, Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero clarified that Medellin residents can continue to venture out for food and medicines, but only one person per family is allowed in order to reduce potential contamination at stores and pharmacies.

Antioquia Governor Anibal Gaviria added in a separate tweet that his government has organized an emergency meeting with mayors in Antioquia this morning (March 21) to answer questions and clarify the extent of restrictions.

“In development of the state of emergency, we will apply a mandatory preventive isolation for all Colombians, from next Tuesday, March 24 at 11:59 p.m., until Monday, April 13, at 00:00 hours,” President Duque stated in a televised press conference last night.

“This decision does not suspend or in any way alter the preventive isolation drills that are in progress” in Medellin, Antioquia and Bogota, he added.

The quarantine will be accompanied by flexibilities “guaranteeing the food supply, access to medicines, the adequate provision of essential public services, as well as of those indispensable for the functioning of society,” he said.

“Any group that feels that the implementation of this [quarantine] measure requires additional action to cover their special needs, we want them to know that we will have open lines to listen to them and so that no vulnerable Colombian is left out of the support network of the state and the society,” he added.

As of March 24, the Colombian Health Ministry recorded 378 confirmed cases of Coronavirus nationally, led by Bogota (120 cases). Medellin and Antioquia have reported 52 cases so far, according to the Ministry.

So far, six people have recovered from Coronavirus, while three have died. The three reported deaths  to date include a taxi driver in Cartagena who had transported a group of infected Italian tourists earlier this month, then a 70-year-old woman in Cali who was exposed to the virus by her daughter who had recently returned from a trip to Cuba, and finally an 88-year-old man in Santa Marta.

Published in general news Written by March 20 2020 0

Antioquia Governor Anibal Gaviria and Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero jointly announced March 19 a drastic quarantine for nearly all people, vehicles, restaurants, meetings, public spaces and many other activities starting at 7 pm Friday, March 20 (this evening), until 3 am Tuesday, March 24.

The quarantine aims to slash potential exposures to the deadly Coronavirus, the governor and mayor announced in a joint press conference. A copy of the order (in Spanish) is available here:  A few clarifications and additions were issued a few hours later, see: .

In all, 125 municipalities in Antioquia department signed the quarantine order, endorsed by most of the business and academic community, according to the governor and the mayor.

Exceptions to the quarantine include police, fire and emergency services; public agency officials; civil defense; the Red Cross and relief agencies; officials of the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare; the Attorney General’s Office, and other agencies that fulfill police functions, according to the order.

“In addition, vehicles and surveillance, health and emergency medical personnel, vehicles or motorcycles intended for patient care and distribution of medicines, citizens requiring health care and their companions or caregivers, media and communication personnel will be exempt [along with] airport services carrying passengers that have previously scheduled flights, among others,” according to the order.

“This provision also contemplates the prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks in open spaces and commercial establishments from 6 pm Thursday, March 19, until 6 am Saturday, May 30, 2020,” according to the order.

Among other exceptions to the quarantine:

Vehicles, drivers and workers involved in transport and production of goods including food and medicines; health-care workers; ambulances; distributors of fuels; telecom and technical support workers; highway construction workers; public transit vehicles and drivers; pharmacies; supermarkets; gasoline stations; home-delivery service providers; farming and mining workers; veterinarians; rural residents that must travel for food and supplies; and mascot owners walking their dogs close to their residences.

The only restaurants allowed to operate during the quarantine are those inside hotels – and only for registered hotel guests, according to the order.

People 70 Years and Older: Quarantine Until May 30

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health announced March 19 that starting today (March 20) at 7 am until midnight May 30, 2020, most people 70 years and older are required to stay at home except for venturing out to buy food, medicines, get money, get health services or "in cases of force majeure or fortuitous event."

Other exceptions include those who still work at jobs, especially in health-care services, the Ministry added.

Published in general news Written by March 19 2020 0

Medellin and Colombia today face the same issues with Coronavirus as the entire planet -- and coping steps being taken here are virtually identical to every other nation and major city.

As of March 16, all foreigners have been banned from travelling to Colombia -- until further notice.

What’s more, starting this weekend (the last minute of March 22, at 11:59 pm), even Colombian nationals and residents currently outside of Colombia also will be prohibited from returning home for the next 30 days, as Colombian President Ivan Duque announced in a March 19 press conference.

While many Colombian citizens and residents have already returned to Colombia since the health crisis emerged in recent weeks, too many have failed to comply with quarantine and isolation requirements -- presenting great risk to all other Colombians, Duque added.  Hence the relatively drastic measure to ban even returnees for the next 30 days, he explained.

As of March 19, the Ministry of Health reported 128 confirmed cases of Coronavirus nationally, with Bogota accounting for most (53 cases), while metro Medellin including Antioquia department had just 11 cases.

According to the Ministry of Transport, nine foreign nationals so far have been deported shortly after arrival here for failure to comply with quarantine requirements.

New control measures include “random visiting brigades to verify that [mandatory quarantine] isolation is being met,” according to the Ministry.

“In addition, hotels throughout the country where foreigners are confined in preventive isolation have been reporting to Migración Colombia if [foreign visitors] have complied with the recommendation and if not, they will be deported.”

International arriving passengers “must make a declaration in writing of the places visited during the last 14 days and facilitate the taking of [body] temperature,” the Ministry added.

Public Utilities Operating Normally

According to Medellín-based public utilities giant EPM, all normal electric, water, gas, trash and sewer services are continuing normally.

In addition, construction continues on the 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric plant in Antioquia, due for initial start-up at end-2021.

Customers can continue using Internet platforms for routine monthly payments and service calls for repairs and installations, according to EPM.

“In compliance with presidential guidelines -- and responsible individual actions such as frequent washing of hands with soap and water to avoid the spread of the coronavirus -- EPM takes action to provide access and connection to drinking water [even] for users who are currently suspended for non-payment,” according to the company.

“EPM invites you to use the virtual channels it offers free of charge to pay invoices, carry out procedures and report damages. On the internet:, Factura Web; Ema, virtual advisor and mobile app "EPM Estamos Aqui" for Android and IOS operating systems. Additionally, the Customer Service Line 444-4115 works 24 hours a day,” the company added.

Many EPM office workers are now telecommuting in order to reduce the chances of contact with potentially infected persons, the company added.

Industrial, Wholesale, Retail, Transport Associations Keep Economy Going

Meanwhile, Colombia’s major industrial, retail, transport and consumer trade associations are working with national, local and departmental government officials to ensure continuing supplies and services for crucial items including food, drugs and fuels.

According to a joint statement by the trade groups, the cooperative measures aim to ensure that “safe logistics mechanisms are allowed, so that companies and producers [can ensure that products] arrive efficiently at points of sale, including department stores, pharmacies, neighborhood stores, wholesale outlets and restaurants.

“We request the municipal authorities that even in scenarios of limited mobility or curfews, the transit of people in charge of marketing [and transporting] goods is facilitated, as well as cargo vehicles with food, fuel, sanitation, health, medicines and other basic necessities that allow the supply of the population and raw materials for production,” the trade groups added.

Banking Measures

Meanwhile, Colombia’s biggest bank – Medellin-based Bancolombia – announced that it likewise is taking measures to reduce risks while also enabling relatively easy banking via its Internet portals.

“Our clients can rely upon apps including ‘Personas,’ ‘Sucursal Virtual Personas,’ ‘Sucursal Virtual Empresas,’ ‘Sucursal Virtual Pymes,’ ‘App Pymes,’ ‘Bancolombia a la Mano’ and ‘Nequi’ to carry out various transactions,” according to Bancolombia.

“We encourage the use of contactless payment methods such as the ‘sticker,’ debit/credit cards, and ‘QR’ payment, which enables greater security by having full control of your cards or cell phone to make payments in commercial establishments and mass transportation systems.

“For the network of offices or places where physical contact is essential, we have reinforced cleaning cycles in branches, ATMs and kiosks, following all the recommendations on disinfection procedures provided by the health authorities.

“We have implemented a preventive protocol to protect clients, users and employees, with measures such as: telecommuting, travel restrictions and [avoidance of] participation and development of mass events,” the company added.

Published in general news Written by January 23 2020 0

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) “Oro Legal” (Legal Gold) project in Antioquia announced January 23 that between the September 2016 launch of the project and October 2019, dozens of formerly artisanal miners in the project produced 2.9 tons of gold worth more than US$112 million.

“The results of gold sales and the payment of income taxes, social security and royalties to the state by small and medium-sized ‘mining production units (‘UPM’ in Spanish initials) of Antioquia and Chocó -- accompanied by the Legal Gold Program of USAID -- are demonstrating that formalization is a good business for both small and medium-sized miners and for the country,” according to USAID.

These formerly illegal miners paid US$8 million (COP$26 billion) in taxes to the state, helping Antioquia fund numerous programs that benefit the citizenry.

“Additionally, with the transition to legality, the use of 40.4 tons of mercury was avoided in the activities of [purifying] the mineral -- and a dynamic of modernization of exploitation processes was generated through compliance with high technical, environmental and business standards,” according to USAID.

“Another benefit offered by formalization processes is the possibility of exporting gold. This is the case of the UPM Tenerife, Río Rayo, Puerto Escondido and La Troja [miners], which are one step away from becoming the first of the Lower Cauca Antioqueño producers to export gold to Switzerland with the ‘Responsible Gold’ seal.

“This [certification] will allow them to receive a better price for the gold produced and an additional prize of US$ 1,000 per kilo, which they can invest in environmental and social projects,” USAID added.

Published in general news Written by December 19 2019 0

Medellin-based power giant EPM announced December18 that it successfully closed the second of two massive flood-prevention doors in the “auxiliary diversion tunnel” (“GAD” in Spanish initials) at the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydropower project.

The “GAD” had collapsed in April 2018, which forced EPM to divert Cauca River water through the dam’s machine room, causing hundreds of millions of dollars of losses from delays in power sales and related, temporary infrastructure damage -- for which the company is starting to receive substantial insurance compensation.

“EPM successfully completed the final maneuver of the closing of the [300-tons] second gate of the Auxiliary Diversion Gallery, GAD, after more than nine months of preparation and having closed the first gate on May 29,” according to the company.

“With the two gates properly closed, this pre-plugging of the GAD reduces the risks for the communities downstream of the dam works and enables the continuation of the recovery process of the Hidroituango hydroelectric project,” according to EPM.

The latest gate closure “allows the entry of personnel, machinery and other necessary resources,” while also enabling a planned pouring of a permanent concrete plug in the GAD during first-half 2020, according to the company.

Meanwhile, EPM continues to make progress toward plugging of the nearby “right diversion tunnel,” which also was damaged along a 400-meters-long stretch. This work includes construction of a new bypass channel due for completion by mid-2020, according to EPM.

“Once the GAD and the right diversion tunnel are technically plugged in mid-2020, any risk [of leakage or collapse]  will be reduced,” hence enabling Colombia’s National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) to drop its existing "flood-warning" status-alert level to a relatively low level, EPM added.

Published in general news Written by November 29 2019 0

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Colombia on November 28 issued an update on a joint USAID-Antioquia governmental program that is restoring 1,781 hectares of lands wrecked by criminal and illegal mining.

To date, the US$4 million project has planted 2 million trees on deforested lands and established 12,000 beehives for honey production in the same areas.

The “Legal Gold” project is benefiting the Antioquian municipalities of Caucasia, Cáceres, El Bagre and Zaragoza, supported by the departmental government of Antioquia, local mayors and private companies including Medellin-based, socially responsible gold miner Mineros SA.

“It is estimated that the illegal exploitation of gold in Bajo Cauca Antioqueño has caused the degradation of 32,000 hectares of land where it is not feasible to develop [conventional] economic activities that benefit the communities, which means that, in addition to the environmental liability, the lands have been become social liabilities,” according to USAID.

“In spite of this panorama, the union of efforts and inter-institutional resources is returning the life to about 8% of the total degraded area of the Lower Cauca Antioqueño through Acacia mangium plantations.

“This forest species, in addition to adapting to difficult soil conditions, enjoys accelerated growth, fixes nitrogen in the soil and produces abundant organic matter and floral and extra-floral nectar that serve as food for honey bees.

“After three years of the establishment of the projects, which linked families in the area of influence, the degraded, dusty and rocky soils [supported] plantation regrowth, and fauna returned to these territories."

The related beekeeping project -- which benefits 350 local families -- "is considered to be the largest that has been established in Colombia," USAID added.

“In these apiaries, 91 tons of honey have been harvested and an estimated production of 380 tons per year is estimated when the hives are at their maximum production peak.

“The recovery of soils degraded by illegal mining is undoubtedly replicable in other regions of the country and the world. This project improves the environmental conditions of the areas, generates rural employment and contributes to the reduction of poverty rates and improvement of the quality of life of the communities,” USAID added.

Published in general news Written by November 22 2019 0

In contrast to rock-throwing against police and vandalism to buildings and infrastructure in Bogota and Cali -- following otherwise peaceful, well-organized November 21 nationwide protest marches -- Medellin once again demonstrated to all Colombia that peaceful protest in a democracy effectively advances civil reform.

Immediately taking note of that was Colombia President Iván Duque Márquez, who publicly hailed marchers in Medellin and elsewhere for avoiding the mindless vandalism that broke out at the conclusion of otherwise peaceful marches.

Duque praised the peaceful protesters -- and promised multi-party negotiations to work out upcoming, potential reforms to pensions, employment-stimulation programs and other demands raised by marchers.

In contrast to the counter-productive vandalism in Bogota, some participants in the peaceful protest march in Medellin actually surrounded and stopped “encapuchados” (hooded vandals) from attacking buildings along the march route, as noted by both President Duque and Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez (see video here:

“What is better [anti-crime] control than that by citizens?” Gutierrez noted in a post-march tweet. “Congratulations and thanks to those who prevented vandalism. What great behavior! How proud we are for Medellin!”

In a nationwide address following the marches, President Duque stated: “Colombians spoke today. I will not get tired of saying it: we are a government that listens and builds.

“We understand that peaceful protest is legitimate in a democracy. And that throughout history there have been frustrations that we must resolve and that we have been attending.

“Today, despite the acts of violence, attributable to vandals that do not represent the spirit of Colombians, we show that this country can exercise individual freedoms without violating the freedoms of others.

“That is why I want to highlight the attitude of the citizens who rejected the vandals and made it clear that to express onself, one does not need to resort to violence.”

Just prior to the protest marches, Colombia’s Labor Minister Alicia Arango stated in a televised panel discussion that in contrast to false claims made by several organizers of the protest marches, “this government has never thought of lowering the minimum wage and even less so for young people.”

“There is not a single [government proposal] written on labor and pension reforms, and this is because if this possibility is analyzed, then it must go through the Labor Agreement Board,” which includes labor unions, employer organizations and government regulators, she added.

In contrast to fake news being spread by left-wing propagandists, Arango pointed out that the Duque administration is actually increasing subsidy payments to the poorest retirees in Colombia – a program created by the current administration since January 1, 2019.

As for creating more first-time job opportunities for young people, Arango pointed out that the Duque administration’s National Development Plan now allots 10% preference for new public-sector jobs for young people between 18 and 28 years old.

In addition, the Colombia minimum wage was boosted by 6% this year -- the largest hike in 25 years -- while the transport subsidy rose 10% for lower-income workers, the biggest increase in 14 years.

As for the state-run Colpensions pension fund (roughly similar to the U.S. Social Security system), in contrast to fake news claims, “Colpensiones will not be eliminated,” Arango said.

“On the contrary, it will be strengthened and become the central axis of economic protection for old age” added Colpensiones president Juan Miguel Villa, who participated with Arango in the public presentation.


Published in general news Written by November 19 2019 0

In a November 12 keynote presentation to the fourth annual Colombia Gold Symposium (CGS) here in Medellin, CGS founder Paul Harris pointed to a recent study showing a drastic decline in mining concession contract applications in Antioquia – the heartland of Colombia gold mining.

According to the study by Colombia-based consultant Portex, the number of mining applications being signed into concession contracts in Antioquia fell from 669 in the 2004-to-2007 period, to 243 in 2008-2011, then 35 in the 2012-to-2015 period, and finally none at all in the 2015-to-2018 period.

Antioquia is the only department in all Colombia that has its own mining authority, Harris noted.

But the Portex study “has shown the delegated authority the regional government enjoys for contracting and supervision is not achieving the goals of decongestion, efficiency, efficacy and fomenting the development of mining and exploration,” as Harris explained in his recent column in the Colombia Gold Letter magazine.

The Portex study found that Antioquia state missed-out on COP$24 billion pesos (US$6.9 million) in government revenues as a result of concession applications not being advanced to signed contracts.

What’s more, another US$173 million per year in capex was lost here because mining companies – lacking concession contracts – didn’t invest in exploration here, Harris noted.

“Unfortunately, the amount of territory which is effectively frozen because concession applications were neither granted nor rejected grew 22.7% annually from 2001 to 2018 from a total of 8,399 hectares to 1,772,948 hectares,” Harris concluded in his report.

The Upside: Higher Quality Mining

On the other hand, positive mining developments are emerging in Antioquia specifically, Colombia generally and also in next-door neighbor Ecuador, Harris noted in his CGS presentation.

Two of these developments include the relatively huge Continental Gold project at Buritica, Antioquia (due for start-up in 2020), and the potential for a giant copper-gold mining project by AngloGold Ashanti in Jerico, Antioquia (see related reports in Medellin Herald, November 18, 2019).

Big new projects for gold and copper mining here are partly a commercial response to a global rebound in metals prices. But the new projects also are gathering strength because governments see metals-mining as a new source of tax-and-royalty revenues -- in the wake of sharp declines in global oil prices and the resulting drop-off in oil-tax revenues, he noted.

In Colombia alone, gold discoveries in recent years could represent a US$94 billion bonanza for government tax-and-royalty revenues, he said.

While some local communities have blocked mining because of environmental concerns -- and Colombian courts sometimes have intervened to hinder some projects -- mining companies also share some of the blame for relatively slow progress in moving projects to commercial operation, he said.

“There have been clumsy community relations efforts by mining companies,” Harris noted here. “People fear mining and don’t understand the benefits. Mining is particularly unloved.”

Some leading global mining execs echo that sentiment, as for example Barrick Gold’s CEO, who recently stated that the “social license” for mining is more pressing than most other issues.

In a related CGS presentation here, Silvana Habib, president of Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Mineria (ANM, the national mining agency), cited an urgent need for environmentally and socially responsible mining, which she dubbed “Mineria 4.0.”

Excessive government bureaucracy also has been partly to blame for slowing project development here, Habib conceded. Which is why ANM recently developed a “single application platform” for mining applications, employing a computerized system developed in Canada, one of the world’s top mining giants.

The new platform – incorporating both environmental and technical requirements -- can cut the former 325-days-long applications process to 90 days, a 72% reduction, she said.

Asociacion Colombiana de Mineria (ACM) trade-association president Juan Camilo Nariño added here in a separate presentation that mining is the single-largest contributor to health, education and infrastructure funding in Colombia.

While environmental advocates frequently assert that mining is a big threat, Colombia’s legal mining companies (as opposed to the criminal miners) are big spenders on environmental controls, much of which is required by government regulations, Nariño explained.

Future gold-and-copper mining projects could bring billions of dollars of investment and revenues for Colombia -- potentially boosting mining’s contribution to gross national product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) from 1.9% currently to 2.7% over the next decade, he added.

Consultant Warnings

While potential exists for more responsible mining development in Antioquia and Colombia, national elections last month also raise cautionary flags, as Bogota-based consultant Raul Gallegos of Control Risks warned here.

A recent rise of populist governments in Latin America is having a knock-on impact on Colombia as well, even though moderate conservative Ivan Duque handily won last year’s presidential election here.

In addition, Antioquia just elected a relatively mining-friendly governor (Anibal Gaviria) -- and recent Antioquian court rulings indicate relative tolerance to mining projects here, he added.

Still, some mining projects in Colombia likely will continue to face several legal challenges, protests and (sometimes) violent clashes -- with many politicians “deferring to [anti-mining] activists,” he warned.

Any company that attempts to steer-around such opposition by allying with corrupt politicians could face disastrous damage to corporate reputation, he added.

In a related presentation here, Colombia Risk Analysis consultant Sergio Guzman pointed to recent violent citizen protests in Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia – along with a leftward political U-turn in Argentina – as a possible opportunity for Colombia to attract investors fleeing from chaos elsewhere.

Colombia’s recent elections indicate that more voters are moving away from left- or right-leaning parties, in favor of more-centrist leaders focused upon concrete results rather than political posturing.

As a result, President Duque “needs to reach out to independents and other parties” in order to ensure that socially and environmentally responsible projects, reforms and policies will indeed move forward.

If political stability and moderation indeed gather steam, then “mining will be key driver of the Colombia economy over the next few years,” Guzman added.

Concluding the CGS agenda, Colombia’s top environmental scientist Brigitte Baptiste (former director of Instituto Humboldt) recounted the many social, political and environmental challenges facing miners not only here in Colombia but world-wide.

But even with those challenges, Baptiste added that “mining can be part of many sustainable activities” -- and it has vastly less negative global impact than deforestation for cattle ranching and agriculture.

To respond to criticism from environmentalists and other concerned citizens, “you have to be more detailed with your answers today,” in an era cluttered with sensationalist fake news and purely ideological opposition to mining, she explained.

While many environmental groups find the idea of negotiating with mining developers and government regulators “not acceptable,” such dialogue is the “only way to achieve a balance of interests and economic development for the country,” she said.

Combining new mining projects with environmental offsets such as bioparks, private reserves, municipal and regional planning initiatives, new ecotourism reserves and better mining practices are among the options for achieving such balance, she said.

“We need to legalize [responsible] mining and get rid of illegal mining,” Baptiste concluded.

Published in general news Written by November 18 2019 0

South Africa-based global mining giant AngloGold Ashanti on November 28 unveiled more details of its proposed "Quebradona" copper-gold mining project at Jerico, Antioquia -- including a novel "Biodynamic" nature park that would restore and improve the entire area, as part of its just-filed environmental impact assessment (EIA).

AngloGold first unveiled the scheme at the Colombia Gold Symposium (CGS) November 12-13 here in Medellin, where environmentally and socially responsible mining took front-and-center stage -- outshining even the usual presentations on geology, politics and legalities.

Why this scheme is so important: If the new, socially/environmentally responsible miners succeed in convincing a wider public, then Antioquia and Colombia could look forward to billions of dollars of new investments, big jumps in tax-and-royalty revenues, new jobs and business opportunities, infrastructure improvements, educational advancements, government fiscal solvency -- and even (amazingly) environmental progress.

The "Quebradona' project would become Colombia’s biggest copper-and-gold mine in pastoral Jerico, Antioquia – while actually improving the local environment via post-mining construction of a remarkable “Biodynamic” nature park.

The repercussions could be seen as almost biblical, as AngloGold potentially could become something like a 21st-century version of “Joshua” at the battle of Jerico -- where anti-mining walls could come tumbling down.

According to the company, "after a rigorous process that included more than 14 years of studies of the subsoil and on the social, economic and environmental characteristics of Jericho, Antioquia, AngloGold Ashanti began the process of filing with the environmental authorities of the departmental and national agencies of the EIA for the Quebradona copper mining project, with which the route to obtain the environmental license for the project begins.

"To construct the study, the company carried out exhaustive analyzes and projections by 27 expert consultants in geology, hydrology, ecology, among other specialties. Also, between November 2018 and September 2019, AngloGold heard the concerns of more than 2,600 inhabitants of Jericho through 150 meetings, in order to raise solutions in the same document."

“The exhaustive analysis and dialogue with the community, together with the advanced technology that we plan to use in the project, allow us to have the certainty that the EIA not only integrates the components required by the authorities to ensure compliance with the technical specifications and social and environmental obligations of the project, but reflects high international standards of sustainable mining to ensure that it meets the purpose of converting the mineral wealth of the territory into social, economic and environmental progress, ” added Felipe Márquez Robledo, president of AngloGold Ashanti Colombia.

In response to public concerns, AngloGold Ashanti integrated into the EIA a "gradual regeneration plan of 2,550 hectares of tropical dry forest and high mountain forest of Jericho," according to the company.

 "The investment includes improving the connectivity of fauna and flora in the ecological corridor between the Cauca river, the escarpment area, the Piedras river, the Quebradona ravine basin, the integrated management district (Distrito de Manejo Integrado, DMI) of the Cuchilla-Jardín-Tamesis region, and the La Guamo ravine basin, in such a way that wildlife species recover mobility between ecosystems and increase native plant cover that will generate goods and services that can be used by birds in the region.

"The EIA also ratifies AngloGold Ashanti's commitment not to use water that supplies the Jerico municipality. In the construction and operation [of the mining project], the company will use less than 1% of the Cauca River water -- and recirculation [of Cauca water] will be 80% in the process circuit," according to the company.


Worried environmentalists, some local farmers and some townspeople in Jerico have been fighting the proposed “Quebradona” mine for years, fearing potential water, air and noise pollution, ugly land subsidence and possible increases in local crime and prostitution. In addition, the politically powerful, Medellin-based "Comfama" social-benefits organization has expressed concerns that the new mine might cause undue pollution or other harm to its proposed "Ecoparque Turístico Los Farallones de La Pintada" ecopark nearby. 

But the Colombian Constitutional Court recently ruled that local governments (including Jerico) can’t by themselves ban mining – although the Court also said that the national government ought to consult with local governments before issuing mining licenses and environmental permits. Colombia’s Congress is supposed to enact a new law defining this consultative scheme.

Meanwhile, two recent Antioquia court rulings have nullified prior Jerico ordinances that would have prohibited mining.

Just as significant, the newly elected Mayor of Jerico -- David Alonso Toro Cadavid – publicly announced that if the national government ultimately approves “Quebradona” licenses, then the local government will do everything it can to ensure an environmentally and socially responsible project.

AngloGold’s upcoming license application to Autoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales (ANLA, the national environmental licensing agency) is expected to be filed within weeks, according to the company.

Prior to that filing, AngloGold’s “Quebradona” mining project manager Ingrid Suarez and AngloGold Colombia corporate affairs manager Juan Camilio Quintero unveiled to CGS 2019 a startling, English-language animated film showing how the mine would be built, operated, safely closed and then repurposed into an environmentally friendly, 2,548-hectares-wide biopark – without polluting water, land or air, or causing any disastrous surface subsidence.

Rather than just generating profits for AngloGold, the “Quebradona” project aims to generate “social wealth for Jerico, Antioquia and Colombia,” along with “environmental regeneration,” Quintero stated here.

Bonus: The company will put US$2.5 million/year into “Fundacion ProJerico” for social development schemes.

The project design includes avoidance of noise or air pollution -- partly by employing underground processing of extracted rock -- and putting tailings adjacent to an existing, non-native pine-tree plantation – all of which eventually will be replanted with native species and reconnected to biological corridors that previously have been ruined by local deforestation.

The project entails four years of construction, 24 years of productive mining, 10 years of closure work and construction of the “Biodynamic” park, which will include bird-watching towers, an educational laboratory to promote conservation and native species, solar and wind turbines for zero-emissions electric power, and restoration of tropical dry forest.

The “Quebradona” project is located about three kilometers from the Puente Iglesias bridge over the Cauca river, from which 0.25 cubic meters per second of water will be withdrawn for the mine processing works, according to Suarez.

Sediment ponds from mine extractions and processing will feature effluent treatments to ensure that water returning to the Cauca river will meet stringent environmental limits, according to the company.

Tailings will include filtration systems to ensure that any possible water migration to nearby streams wouldn’t be acidic, she said. Plugging of ventilation shafts will avoid water filtration through the mine post-closing. Other systems will be employed to minimize noise, dust and light pollution during the term of mine operations.

Page 5 of 17

About Medellin Herald

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.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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