Colombia’s mining minister said that the manner in which the ministry awards mining titles to companies is not based on money.
In dialogue with W Radio, Mining Minister Carlos Rodado said though a lot of corruption exists in Colombia, inside the ministry, “things are not resolved with money,” in response to recent controversy over statements made by the director of Canadian gold mining company Medoro in a documentary.
In the documentary, the director stated that convincing populations to resettle so that mining companies can move in is a “matter of money” and resources, many of which come from the government.
Rodado remained somewhat vague, meanwhile, in his opinion on the director’s denials of these statements earlier Wednesday, stating only “that is what he has said … it was the explanation that he gave.”
Rodado gave as an example of the fact that the ministry is not corruptly granting licenses the suspension of licenses in the Santander department this past winter, following protests by the locals. In February, the government also suspended the granting of new mining licenses until June due to safety concerns and the exceptionally high number of applications.
The minister also stated that “the reports we have made of the irregularities in Ingeominas (Institute of Mining and Geology) leave it clear that here the mining titles are not being given out in an irregular manner.”
Earlier in June, it was reported that Colombia’s inspector general planned to investigate alleged irregularities in the granting of mining licenses by Ingeominas, including 25 licenses granted in national parks.
When asked about specific sanctions that the Mining Ministry has created to avoid exploitation by powerful multinational mining companies, Rodado said that it is important to distinguish between the different types of illegal mining, one which is done on a small scale by peasants for lack of other economic opportunities, and the other which is carried out by “mafias” and “illegal groups.”
The minister stated that the problem of illegal gold mining in not just a problem for the ministry, but for the entire Colombian state. He explained that thus far in the year, 19 operations have been carried out to combat the “colossal” problem. He also maintained that government officials are working in conjunction with the Colombian armed forces to carry out raids to combat the illegal trafficking of the precious metal.
“We are proposing the creation of a special unit in the Prosecutor General’s Office to combat this type of illegal mining,” added Rodado.