The environmental authority of Tolima on Monday has ordered multinational gold miner AngloGold Ashanti to stop its controversial activities in a central Colombia village, saying it broke rules on mining exploration and water use.
The company’s mining activities, which have been going on for a year in the Piedras municipality of the central Tolima department, caused local protests in February as the community blocked roads in an attempt to stop the passage of company personnel and equipment into the area.
Now the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Tolima (CORTOLIMA) says AngloGold Ashanti has engaged in “exploration activities without permission”, potentially causing damage to the protected riverbed in the village of Camao, Piedras and its surrounding area.
“They (AGA) had not informed us that they were doing industrial processes, but we discovered two [drilling] platforms, one of which reaches 44 meters deep,” said Jorge Enrique Cardozo, director of CORTOLIMA.
According to the local Territorial Legislation of Piedras, adopted in 2000, the affected area is officially registered as an agricultural and agro foresting area for pastoral and local peasant use.
“The activities were taking place in a highly fragile agricultural site, and were generating imminent risks and long term damage to the area’s land and water” said Cardozo.
The presence of the multinational gold miner in Piedras has caused controversy in the area ever since locals discovered the company was considering the area for a processing plant for its proposed “La Colosa” gold mine.
In a related investigation the water company ACUAGYR SA ESP is being investigated for allegedly supplying drinking water to AngloGold Ashanti for industrial use without permission.
The suspension of activities has included the seizure of vehicles, equipment and mining equipment, including two 20-meter drilling rigs. A disciplinary investigation has been opened.
- Suspenden actividades de Anglogold Ashanti en Piedras, Tolima (El Tiempo)
- Suspendidas operaciones de Anglogold Ashanti en Doima (El Nuevo Dia)
- CORTOLIMA Impone Medidas Preventivas de Suspensión de Actividades No Mineras Adelantadas por Anglogold en el Municipio de Piedras e Inicia Proceso Sancionatorio (CORTOLIMA)