With the formation of a new federal mining agency, control over Colombia’s mines will leave the hands of local authorities, and fall under the jurisdiction of the National Mining Agency (ANM).
Colombia’s Ministry of Mining announced plans in 2011 to shift authority over mining operations in the departments of Antioquia, Bolivar, Boyaca, Caldas, Cesar and Santander to the ANM. The federal agency will focus on the “contracting and oversight” of operations, according to Colombia’s Mining Minister Mauricio Cardenas. The change is expected to go into effect in the coming months.
Regional officials expressed concern over the consequences that centralizing the mining industry will have on the sector.
“We are very concerned, because it will cause a large problem in the region and it’s beginning to run out of control (…) Having a central body that makes decisions is not the same as having a direct intermediary with the miner, who has the knowledge that we have of the area,” Claudia Cecilia Cadavid, the mining secretary for the northwestern department of Antioquia, told newspaper El Colombiano.
While the mining secretary understood the need for “strong institutions in the country,” she worried that federal oversight could complicate “the production, economic development and social initiatives without direct mediation.”
Cadavid promised to consult with the ANM to ensure that resources were allocated efficiently for Antioquia’s mines.
President Juan Manuel Santos has made restructuring the mining and energy sectors a priority during his administration. The goal is to improve industrial standards and infrastructure to allow the continued growth of Colombia’s robust mining sector. There are approximately 9,000 operational mines in the country.
The centralization of mining authority in the country comes at a delicate time, with officials reporting an increase in illegal mining and the spreading influence of armed groups in traditional mining regions in the country.