A set of Colombia’s mining regulations from 2001 that are set to expire this month are causing concern about what a return to the old standards could mean for informal and illegal mining activity, and the environment.
According to critics, Colombia’s return to the old mining standards could threaten biodiversity around the country.
“The delivery of mining titles only with… the minimum requirements is what precipitated the avalanche of concessions that we are trying to control in this country,” said Brigitte LG Baptiste of the Humboldt Institute, which seeks to protect Colombia’s biodiversity.
Since 2001 Colombia’s Mining Code has enforced stricter regulations for miners. Securing a title is a prerequisite for being granted a concession by the Colombian government. The code was set to expire in May 2013, causing a potential legal vacuum for industrial miners.
With the Mining Code set to expire this month, the Constitutional Court ruled against the government’s proposed alternative in early May. Colombia’s government has yet to submit new legislation, threatening a return to old mining standards that put less emphasis on environmental protection.
“There are conflicts of mining in the area [of Cundinamarca],” said Baptiste. “In almost all mountain areas [we] have to watch carefully in which form the forest reserve could be redefined as to fulfill its role to protect the aquifers throughout the region.”