The Colombian government has not committed itself to rejecting a gold mining application in the Santurban nature reserve, reported Colombian media Friday.
Located in the northern departments of Santander and Norte de Santander, the expansive moorland had been subject to an application by Canadian corporation Leyhat Colombia, formerly operating as Greystar Resources.
Leyhat Colombia made an application in July last year to commence mining on 6,000 sq meters land purchased in 2010, which resulted in the granting of a 20-year license in October.
This prompted Colombia’s Comptroller General to alert the Ministry of Environment, which has now stepped in and handed the responsibility of assessing the claim to the Alexander von Humbolt Institute, a monitoring body for biological resources and biodiversity in Colombia.
Colombian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Frank Pearl said, “The Humbolt Institute is undertaking the delineation of Santurban to define the areas that can be touched and if that title is located in what is delineated by the institute as wilderness area, no mining activity can take place there. Even if the boundary defines an area as wilderness and the title ends up being outside, the company will not have a free hand to extract gold because it requires an environmental permit.”
While the government has temporarily halted the process, the fact remains that, should the Humbolt Institute endorse the title as not encroaching on protected land, Leyhat Colombia will be free to begin mining in the area.
Santurban is considered by many to be one of the most outstanding natural resources in Colombia and is the heart of one of the country’s internationally renown moorlands.