An investigation by Colombia’s National Mining Agency found that only 12% of the mining titles in the central state of Boyaca adhere to the law, reported national media Wednesday.
Of the 1,540 registered mines in Boyaca, the agency found 4,885 total violations, an average of 3.7 violations per mine – higher than the national average, reported the El Tiempo newspaper.
“After inspecting and analyzing the titles, [our investigation] found 4,885 cases that the title holders of mines should correct, or be sanctioned by the National Mining Agency,” said Angela Farah Otero, chief of the National Mining Agency’s investigative body.
Of the titles investigated, 35% were in the exploration phase, 30% in the construction and assembly phase, and 35% in the exploitation phase, reported Caracol Radio.
The majority of violations occurred in the exploitation phase, which presented 62% of the violations, followed by construction and assembly (31%), and exploration (7%).
Legal, technical and economic concerns comprised the majority of complains, with environmental and security irregularities representing the next largest portion of violations.
Lack of regulation in many mines, as many are often illegal, has proven disastrous for workers as mining accidents are common throughout Colombia. Earlier in May, a collapse in an illegal gold mine in the southwestern Colombian state of Cauca killed over 20 people.
Large-scale operations in particular have been responsible for widely documented environmental damages that have broad and lasting effects on nearby communities. Agriculture is one of the primary livelihoods in the state of Boyaca, and farmers throughout the country have called for stricter enforcement of mining regulations.
The ministry did make a point of praising those few mines found to be in full compliance with the law, saying, “In contrast we identified titles that have very good mining practices and contribute to the support of local communities in their zone of influence.”