Colombia to focus on illegal mining, formalization of small miners in 2021
Colombia is currently working to diversify its mining sector while boosting the country’s economy. This year, authorities will focus on two issues specific to the mining sector: formalizing small-scale miners and stopping illegal gold mining.
During the Encuentro Latinoamericano de Minería conference, organized by the Colombian national mining agency (ANM), the Minister of Mines and Energy, Diego Mesa, said that by the end of 2021, authorities plan to formalize 21,000 artisanal miners in the country.
It is estimated that the country has more than 110,000 artisanal miners and only 3,500 of them are currently formalized.
With the support of the ANM, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the mining authorities are working on a strategy to facilitate access to bank credit for artisanal miners who need to improve their processes.
The pilot plan includes the opening of more than 300 bank accounts for artisanal gold and coal miners in the departments of Antioquia, Boyacá and Santander.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Mines and agricultural finance fund Finagro launched a four-year loan program for small and medium-sized miners.
The creation of new financing models is also part of the plan to formalize the sector, and national authorities and representatives of the Colombian Stock Exchange (BMC) are in talks on this matter.
During the event, President Iván Duque stressed that the government will not allow the stigmatization of mining activity due to illegal activities in the sector.
“This month, we will send Congress a bill to strengthen penalties for environmental crimes and toughen penalties for illegal mining,” he said.
Duque also mentioned that the authorities are considering opening talks with the country’s central bank to centralize gold purchases.
“Illegal [gold] mining has become the main source of income for illegal groups, ”Mesa said at the event.
According to figures from the Washington DC-based research and advocacy organization Global Financial Integrity, Colombia’s illegal gold mining activity generates around US $ 2.4 billion annually, three times the value of the industry. cocaine industry, according to some intelligence estimates.
Photo credit: Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy