The figures come from the first “Mining Compass” report conducted and presented by the National Consulting Centre in Colombia during the third annual congress of Large-Scale Mining in the city of Cartagena, according to local media.
The study, which consulted 3000 people in 70 municipalities across Colombia between 10 January and 12 February this year, found that 66% of those questioned believe that mining is good for the country, but only 47% believed it was positive for their immediate municipality, El Espectador newspaper reported.
“There is a gap between the perception of national public opinion and that of the population living in the mining municipalities about the contributions of mining,” explains Carlos Lemoine, president of National Consulting Center.
According to the study, in the towns with mining production the perception changes with 64% of stating that mining is good for the country and only 51% for their immediate areas.
Even with some of the higher figures shown by the study, the legal mining industry within the country has a long way to go if it wants to change popular perceptions — largely due to the ongoing human rights and environmental issues caused by the industry.
Coffee industry groups, such as the Movement for Colombian Coffee Grower’s Dignity (MDC), critize the government and state that multinational mining ventures are damaging Colombian coffee region and heavily impacting the important industry.
The director of the Sector for Mining at a Large Scale (SMGE) Claudia Jiménez, said that Colombia does not have reliable information on the economic reality of mining and that problematic illegal mining has thrived due to the lack of solid government institutions, according to La Republica newspaper.
According to the study, the general population and people in mining towns generally regard environmental issues as the main weakness of the sector, largely cause by illegal mining.
“A key challenge for the formal mining sector is to achieve recognition of their contribution and their good practices” says Lemoine, and added that only 55% of the population surveyed had a positive view of mining companies, and only 48% percent in mining towns.
Additionally, the study revealed that 63% believe it is possible to make a socially responsible mining.