Declarations of the Colombian Minister of Environment about the need to change its mining licenses to be competitive with Peru are a slap in the face to the environmental reforms that have been done recently in Colombia.(1) Peru can’t be used as a reference for mining development even if the ciphers of the investments from US and China seem a great deal for the Inca Nation. Colombian Ministers should not be comparing their country’s poor mining development with Peru, a country that is compromising its environmental assessment process. This is especially the case considering the ethical problems related to the extermination of Colombia’s forest, rivers and, the slaughtering and displacement of its native communities.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conceived originally as a tool to safeguard the environment in developments while balancing economic viability and positive social impacts (2). However, Latin American nations have shown problems with EA procedures. Peru, the nation that was pointed out by the Colombian Minister, has several examples of poor development of the baseline(3). In the Conga mine assessment, for instance, there was not a comprehensive study of the area, and the communities were severely affected. Mining residues have been polluting the water from the region leaving huge devastation.(4) Unfortunately a poor baseline inhibits mitigation and follow-up mechanisms, bringing deplorable consequences. The lack of comprehensive baselines can annihilate communities and their environment.
Peru has been called the best place in Latin America to invest in mining (7). Even with a gigantic growth of 400% during the last decade and a GDP expansion of 2.4% during 2014 (5) Peru has nothing to envy in terms of sustainability. One of the most catastrophic examples of this ravage mining is at The Madre de Dios, a southern region in Amazonas. With demolishing practices mining in Madre de Dios has destroyed more than 50,000 hectares, leaving a yellow stain of sulfur in the middle of the jungle in 2012.(6) The best place to invest in mining is not the best place for the environment.
There is evidence that an indiscriminate exploration of the land is ravaging the native population of Peru (7). Multiple deadly riots are part of the news in the country. The impact of flexible legislation is represented in hundreds of people and children displaced to other parts of the forest or the cities. There are high levels of child labor, inhumane conditions for the miners, plus most of the populations that live in nearby areas present very high levels of mercury in their blood(6). All of this in spite of Peru’s efforts to incorporate the informal miners into the legal mining industry. This problem has increased over the last years caused by the increasing price of gold and the government’s mis-management because of the gold rush (4).
The gold fever seems to be attracting the Colombian Minister of Mines. It seems that he needs a reminder of the consequences that Peru is battling, and how unmanageable the gold fever became for Peru. Colombia is not ready for a bigger development in this sector. There are not conditions to preserve its natural resources. There should not be a proposal from the Mines Minister to change mining legislations. He should be talking about strengthening and enforcing the actual labor mining conditions in order to protect the communities and environment that, after irresponsible development, are in most cases impossible to restore.
1.Chacon, J. (2015, January 18). Debacle minero se abre camino. Retrieved January 18, 2015, from http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/economia/debacle-minero-se-abre-camino-articulo-538595
- http://www.os.is/gogn/unu-gtp-sc/UNU-GTP-SC-05-28.pdf. (2007, November 2). Retrieved January 10, 2015, from http://www.os.is/gogn/unu-gtp-sc/UNU-GTP-SC-05-28.pdf
3.Environmental Impact Assessment Review 30 (2010) 247–261Environmental impact assessment in Colombia: Critical analysis and proposals for improvement Javier Toro a , Ignacio Requena b , Montserrat Zamorano c. ⁎
4.Scientist Calls Peru Conga Mining Project an ‘Environmental Disaster:’ Interview with Reinhard Seifert. (2012, May 1). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://upsidedownworld.org/main/peru-archives-76/3608-scientist-calls-peru-conga-mining-project-an-environmental-disaster-interview-with-reinhard-seifert
5.Finally, Good News for Mining in Peru: Ricardo Carrión and Alberto Arispe. (2014, June 3). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://www.theaureport.com/pub/na/16053
6.Gold-Mining In Peru Is Much Worse Than Anyone Thought. (2013, October 28). Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/28/gold-mining-in-peru-is-much-worse-than-anyone-thought/
7.Superneau, L. (2015, February 1). Peru usurps Chile as best Latin American country for mining investment. Retrieved February 15, 2015, from http://www.bnamericas.com/news/mining/peru-usurps-chile-as-best-latin-american-country-for-mining-investment