The CEO of exploration and mining company Grand Colombia Gold has said confrontations between criminal groups for illegal mining has resulted in 280 deaths this year in the northern Colombian Antioquia department, reported W Radio on Friday
Maria Consuelo Araujo who is also the former minister for foreign affairs, said that the illegal mining has “become the fuel for criminal gangs,” who she claimed are responsible for 280 deaths related to illegal mining in the Segovia region.
The executive said that there are leaflets circulating the area which threaten that “anyone who is not at home after 10 at night will be killed.”
According to Araujo, since Gran Colombia Gold reached Segovia in 2010 there has been a “deterioration” in public order, the CEO entreated the government to provide more security in the area “so the workers can continue with legal mining.”
Araujo said that her company had made a “great social investment” in the zone with the generation of more than 3,000 jobs, but “nothing has been done” while the criminal bands continue to control the illegal mining.
“We are very committed to the region and try to get ahead, but we need security conditions, that the government is able to provide,” said Araujo.
Criminal gangs and guerrillas have resorted to illegal mining to support their finances in eight of Colombia’s 32 departments according to NGO Insight Crime which reported that approximately 86% of gold in Colombia is illegally mined.
Energy Minister Federico Renjifo said at last week’s International Mining Conference that formalizing and legalizing the entire mining sector is crucial to economically benefit Colombia. However, as proven in recent deaths, the “gold wars” have resulted in more than just a loss of money, but blood as well.