The head of state said that illegal mining is responsible for polluting water sources and encouraging children to stop attending school.
President Santos said “there is great concern” whenever it is seen that rivers and water sources are contaminated. “What we are going to combat are the big illegal excavations which are ruining the environment.”
He added that children who enter the illegal mining trade to earn money instead of going to school will be held back for the rest of their lives.
“We will do everything within our power to combat it,” said President Santos and added that “now in some areas of the country we are taking action.”
The head of state said the government will assist small-scale miners to formalize their activities.
“I say to those small-scale miners, miners operating illegally … we are going to help them to formalize.”
Colombia’s now-defunct intelligence agency DAS stated in October 2011 that illegal mining is on the rise and is funding criminal groups.
In July 2011, Colombia’s Chamber of Mining claimed that the country loses $600,000 a year in lost tax revenue due to illegal mining.