2009/05/24 Write of environmental concerns - of mining companies in Colombia

         May 22, 2009
South Africa-based Anglo Gold Ashanti (AGA), one of the largest gold-mining companies in the world, has obtained a concession from the Colombian government  to explore the feasibility of developing a gold mine in the community of La Colosa, near the city of Cajamarca in Tolima Department. The concession contract was awarded to AGA subsidiary Sociedad Kedahda, S.A. AGA proposes to locate its mine within the Central Forest Reserve established by law in 1959.

     IKV Pax Christi, a Dutch peace and human rights movement, has just released a detailed study of possible effects of the proposed gold mine on the local population, based upon an analysis by an experienced mining engineer from the United States, Robert Moran. Dr. Moran found that the potential impact of the gold mine on the environment---upon the water table, from which neighboring farms draw their water, and from toxic tailings, which would be produced in the mining operations---had not been sufficiently addressed. Nor had the amount of royalty payments and to whom they should be paid been adequately considered. The Pax Christi report concludes that: “A crucial condition for the construction of links of trust between the community and the mining business is the recognition of the legitimacy of the social processes which are being developed in the region. The above signifies the following: “Respect for the autonomy of the communities and the existing processes.”

     Colombia Support Network  (CSN) has been concerned about the mining plans of AGA in Colombia for some time. On April 25, 2008 we wrote a letter to Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos concerning gold mining operations in Tiquisio in Bolivar Department, and sent a copy to AGA. We received a response from Thero Setiloane, AGA’s Executive Vice President for Business Sustainability on July 25, 2008, in which he indicated that AGA “does not condone the forced removal of people from their lands” and operates only “with the blessing of those local communities and after an extensive evaluation of the threat and risks in the area.” It appears, however, that AGA and the Uribe Administration have not taken seriously into account the potential harm to local families and community organizations of Colosa.

     Please write to AGA and to President Uribe at the addresses shown blow to express your concern that any mining operations undertaken in Colombia protect the environment, preserve water resources, do not create toxic dumps, and involve fair compensation to the Colombian people and the local community for the natural resources removed.

Write to :

Mr Mark Cutifani, CEO Anglo Gold Ashanti ,  MCutifani@AngloGoldAshanti.com
Mr. Thero Setiloane, Vice President for Business Sustainability : TMLSetiloane@AngloGoldAshanti.com
Mr. Alvaro Uribe – Velez, President of Colombia : E-mail: auribe@presidencia.gov.co
Fax: 57 1 566 2071
Or check his website www.presidencia.gov.co

Mr. Hernan Martinez, Minister of Mines Colombia : hjmartinez@minminas.gov.co