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How will Santos deal with the La Colosa gold mine concerns?

On Tuesday 22nd November, the LSE Public Lecture series will be hosting the Colombian President Juan Manuel Calderón Santos where contention over the controversial La Colosa gold mine is likely to be raised. A demonstration will take place in London, called by Colombian Solidarity Campaign and Movimiento 22.

Mutsuyuki Tokeshi

With a lecture entitled “Levading Colombia Towards Prosperity for All”, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will be visiting London School of Economics to speak on the country’s business infrastructure.

Santos took the presidential office in June 2010 after winning an easy victory in the second round of elections.

Under the previous government he served as defence minister,  implementing key policies against Colombia’s left wing rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Besides insisting on continuing Uribe’s policies with regards to combating the drugs trade and dealing with Farc, Santos has promised to develop the country’s infrastructure and create more jobs.

Groups such as the Colombia Solidarity Campaign have launched protests against Santos’s support of the multi-million mining project La Colosa, 150km west of Bogotá in the province of Tolima.

La Colosa is the first major gold porphyry discovery in the Andes and is expected to yield over 12.3 million ounces of resources. The company in charge of the project is one of the world’s leading gold mining companies, AngloGold Ashanti.

So far, there is an exploration deadline which has been extended from 2012 to 2015.

This is likely to delay mine construction and production which was set for 2014 and 2016. The project is said to require three billions dollars in investment. The delays have been caused by environmental concerns to the project.

It is feared that the project will damage a river basin by reducing water supply for agriculture and consumption. Critics have pointed to the cyanide used to process the ore that will contaminate water supplies for drinking and irrigation purposes.

Some say these types of mining projects are dislocating farmers and indigenous families living in the area. Others have voices their disapproval over the company managing the project, AngloGold Ashanti.

Human rights violated

The company has been accused of human rights violations in developing countries and paying extortion money to gain access to gold mines. In 2011, Public Eye, a platform for criticism of profit orientated globalization named it the “World’s Most Irresponsible Company”.

A number of demonstrations have been taking place this year in both Colombia and the UK expressing public discontent over the project.

Many of these have taken place under the slogan of “Yes to Life! No to La Colosa!”.

On June 3rd 13000 people marched on the streets of Tolima and a number of marches have taken place outside of the Colombian embassy in London. Colombia Solidarity Campaign and
Movimiento 22 are organizing the picket from 12:00 to 14:30.
Colombia Solidarity Campaign is one of the organizations calling to this demonstration.

The lecture is likely to be an insightful look into the viewpoints of the president and his sensitivity towards environmental and human rights’ groups concerns.

Conference: Date: Tuesday 22nd November 2011, Time: 12 pm – 1 pm. Venue: London School of Economics, venue tbc to ticket holders.

Picket: Same place, from 12:00 to 14:30.

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