Globe, Latin America

Colombia: How Long will La Colosa Last?

The Colombia Solidarity Campaign has organised a special day to speak about one of the most important mining projects in the world, the most coveted gold mine in Colombia. The event will take place on the 4th of June in London.

La Colosa (translated in English to the giant) has for a very long time been an emblem of the many organisations and associations who oppose the exploitation and plundering of Colombia’s natural resources. Located in the ‘paso de la Linea’, one of Colombia’s most important industrial routes, the mining project of ‘La Colosa’, initiative of the transnational company AGA (AngloGold Ashanti), in the department of Tolima, recently received disavowal from the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Tolima (Cortolima) for the concession of water on the banks of the rivers Combeima and Coello for the execution of mining.

Still, the battle continues with the objective of finally stopping this project located by the high banks of the rivers Toche and Bermellon, tributaries of the Coello river. It is this body of water which supplies water to the districts of Riego de Coella and Cucuana, one of the largest agricultural production areas in Colombia.

Currently in La Colosa- where it seems that mining exploitation cannot be contained- as in other regions of the country, such is the case of the territory of the Coffee Cultural Landscape where various mining certificates have been awarded; it is a key area in the supply of food, water and renewable resources to the local population.

The multinational company AngloGold Ashanti carries out open-pit gold mining using cyanide, one of the most polluting and dangerous practices in the mining industry. AGA, which originates from South Africa, is moving its mining projects to other African countries such as Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in Asia, in India, and its actions frequently result in a systematic violation of the human rights of local communities from the exploited region.

In Colombia for example, AGA’s mining projects have caused alarm in recent years thanks to the number of social conflicts, environmental issues and political conflicts which are being generated in a country which boasts around 800 thousand hectares of mining projects obtained in 30 years.

Greenpeace recently awarded the company the Public Eye award, dubbed the ‘most irresponsible company in the world’ thanks to the terrible social and environmental problems it caused in Ghana.

In mid-April, dozens of students and academics from different educational centres in the district of Tolima demonstrate in Ibague, capital of the region, in order to raise awareness of the potential consequences of this mining project and to show that the young population is against greedy excessive mining of Colombia, Tolima in particular.

In response to the strong negative reactions brought about by this mining project its effects on the population and environment of Tolima, and with the objective of offering some answers and possible solutions to the long-standing dilemma, the Colombia Solidarity Campaign has organised a special day to discuss the issue.

The principal event of the meeting will be a conference which will benefit from the presence of engineer Alexander Martinez Rivillas and Alejo Pulido.

Martinez Rivillas teaches in Department of Agrarian Development in the Agriculture faculty of Tolima University and academic in other universities in Colombia and Spain. He is also author of a study of the territorial risks of the La Colosa gold mine.

Alejo Pulido is carrying out an investigation on the activities of AGA in the Chocó area of Colombia, a zone of high biodiversity where mining projects are threatening to displace Afro-Cuban and indigenous communities and contaminating the two main rivers in the region, the Atrato and San Juan. Alejo Pulido worked for CENSAT Agua Viva, and he is presently member of the Cacarica Collective in Spain and the Valencia Coordinator of Solidarity with Colombia.

There will also be a report on the subject with workshops, debates, and action plans. There will be a documentary projected on the activities of AGA Ghana and more possible conference speakers from Africa and India are yet to be confirmed.

Date and Place: 4th of June. 10am – 5pm. 180 North Gower Street, London. NW1 2NB.

(Translated by: Elly Greig – Email: ellygreig1@gmail.com)

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