USAID Launches ‘Oro Legal’ Responsible-Mining Projects in Antioquia
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced March 4 the launch of “Oro Legal” projects aiming to promote environmentally and socially responsible gold mining in Antioquia and Chocó departments.
Among the companies that will cooperate in the projects is Medellin-based gold-mining giant Mineros SA, recognized nationally and internationally for its leadership in environmentally and socially responsible mining practices.
“We have agreed to a memo of understanding with ‘Oro Legal’ to work cooperatively” on the projects, Mineros SA director of corporate responsibility Jaime Jaramillo Arbelaez told Medellin Herald.
According to the USAID announcement, “Oro Legal” aims to foment good mining practices among small and artisanal miners in cooperation with large-scale miners (including Mineros SA) as well as government mining and environmental agencies.
The new program will operate in 20 municipalities in Antioquia and Chocó, “putting special emphasis on recuperation of degraded [mining] areas, protection of water resources, reduction in mercury use, promotion of mining legalization, greater participation of artesanal gold-mining associations, formalization of afro-Colombian and indigenous miner training and technical assistance, and creation of [alternative] productive activities,” according to USAID.
The “Oro Legal” project aims to legalize and formalize 220 artesanal mining areas, rehabilitate 11,500 hectares of lands previously degraded by mining, support the production of eight tons (per year) of legal gold, eliminate 55 tons of toxic mercury used in gold refining, cut mercury-caused air pollution by 30%, train 3,500 artesanal miners in responsable practices, and develop productive chains for alternative agro-industrial products including achiote in Choco, Acacia plantations in Antioquia, and bee-keeping projects in Antioquia, which will benefit some 2,500 families.
Antioquian municipalities that will benefit from the new projects include Caucasia, El Bagre, Zaragoza, Nechí, Tarazá, Cáceres, Remedios, Segovia, San Roque and Buriticá.
Chocó municipalities involved in “Oro Legal” will include Quibdó, Rio Quito, El Carmen de Atrato, Unión Panamericana, Quibdó, Condoto, Cantón San Pablo, Istmina, Nóvita, Medio Baudó and Tadó, according to USAID.