The Colombian government suspends the approval of new mining licenses until June due to high application levels and safety concerns, Caracol Radio reported Tuesday.
During a visit to the mining area of Marmato in Colombia’s northwest department of Caldas, Mining and Energy Minister Carlos Rodado Noriega announced the suspension.
He said that in light of the current handling of over 16,000 applications and the past year’s mining accidents which left over 100 dead, the Colombian mining and geology institute, Ingeominas, will have to be very careful with future approvals.
While acknowledging that these high application numbers reflect Colombia’s dependency on mining as a work source, he stressed the need for tighter regulation to minimize future risks. This echoed President Juan Manuel Santos’ call for mining reform after the death of 26 miners in two separate incidents in late January and early February.
Noriega utilised the current operation being run by Canadian mining company Modero in Marmato as an example of how operations should be run. He stated that while the process of implementing open pit gold mining should go ahead, it must be done in conjunction with the local community and government due to the erosion and geological risks posed.
Noriega also used the opportunity to hear concerns of local miners, who sought government guarantees over labour and wage rights in light of Modero’s 70% stake in the mine.
Ingeominas officials will continue to travel throughout the country analyzing the sectors most affected by illegal mining, providing necessary authorization controls and local government support measures.