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Mining and conflict in Colombia

Mining activities have been a cause for conflict in Colombia over the past decades. PAX works together with local populations in several areas of the country to assure their security and to increase their participation in decision-making processes.

Situation & Urgency

Under the Santos administration, mining has been turned into one of key drivers for development and economic growth in Colombia. Accordingly, the government over the past years intended to make way for large-scale mining projects in large parts of the country. In addition, the government maintains its firm support of the exploitation of coal in Cesar and La Guajira. Mining activities, however, have proved to generate many conflicts and popular discontent. In these contexts, PAX carries out investigations and lobby activitities, and attempts to empower local populations affected by mining projects in order for them to voice their concerns and increase their security situation.  

Activiteiten & Resultaten

  • Cesar region

    Cesar region

    Since 2012 PAX has been investigating human rights violations nearby large coal mines in Colombia’s Cesar region, which are being operated by Prodeco (subsidiary of Swiss company Glencore) and the U.S. coal company Drummond. These businesses supply large amounts of hard coal to energy producers in the Netherlands and other European countries. Through its investigation and lobby campaigns, PAX intends to establish a dialogue between the actors concerned (such as mining companies, the Colombian government, European energy utilities and victims of massive human rights violations), which should lead to reconciliation and the reparation of the victims in Cesar. Read the report The dark side of coal.

  • Tolima region

    Tolima region

    While South African mining company AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) continued its efforts to initiate gold exploitation at their La Colosa property, residents of  Tolima organised themselves in order to express their concerns regarding the project’s impact. In the years that followed, PAX trained citizens from Tolima to participate in decision-making processes, register complaints and work on a comprehensive and transparent supply of information. Additionally, PAX carried out a risk-analysis on security and human rights, and in 2016 published the report “Democracia vale más que el oro”.

  • Nationally: Laws, oversight, transparency and discussions

    Nationally: Laws, oversight, transparency and discussions

    PAX encourages national authorities and government institutions to improve legislation, fortify the government's supervisory scope and stimulate transparent decision-making. In addition we stimulate national discussions on mining-related decisions, including the inadequate influence of local and regional authorities on these decisions, as well as the social, economic and environmental impact of the forthcoming decrease in international demand for Colombian coal (the so-called carbon phase-out).

  • Locally: Information

    Locally: Information

    PAX coaches, advises and trains local communities in areas of mining interest. The objectives are to improve the human security situation, prevent conflicts and ensure the participation of local population in decision-making. 

Contact information

Joris van de Sandt, Programme Leader Latin America, vandesandt(javascript needed for readable email)

Dealing with the Past, Natural Resources, Conflict & Human Rights - Colombia