Colombian licensing authority to decide on Soto Norte mine by Santurban páramo in April 2020
Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove (seated on the left in the photo) from the CCALCP legal collective will be visiting Canada from November 2-10.
The Santurban páramo is a sensitive ecosystem (wetland/moor) that supplies drinking water to more than two million people in Colombia.
It is currently at risk from the proposed Soto Norte gold mine that is backed by Minesa, a transnational corporation based in the United Arab Emirates.
The Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) has stated, “We demand respect for our rights to water; to life in dignified conditions for communities; and that authorities take real, effective measures for the protection and conservation of the moors.”
Representatives from CCALCP will be speaking in Ottawa (Monday November 4), Vancouver (Wednesday November 6), and Nanaimo (Friday November 8) on this issue and other environmental and water protection concerns.
Decision in April 2020
El Tiempo now reports that the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) will announce its decision on the mine in April 2020.
That article also quotes the director of ANLA saying that there will be public environmental hearings, three requested so far, in February and March 2020.
El Tiempo highlights, “For the exploitation, from which during the 25 years about 67 million tons of land would be extracted with the use of 35,500 tons of explosives, the authorization of water concessions is required that the Corporation for the Defense of the Bucaramanga Plateau (CDMB ) already denied considering that the flows of the ravines and rivers from which the water resource would be taken would be affected.”
Furthermore, RCN Radio reports Alexander Martínez, the director in charge of ANLA, saying that the massive number of applications about the mine is historic.
That article notes, “He also reported that the hearings, the possible impact on the water supply, the wasteland, how the dumping of waste will be, are some doubts expressed by the citizens in these 20,408 applications.”
Filing a legal remedy
RCN also reports, “Another recurring request, according to Martínez, is in the request to the ANLA to accept third parties involved, a figure that – if it complies with the profile according to the law – may be notified with the decisions regarding the environmental licensing process and, therefore, file a legal remedy if there is room for it.”
RCN adds, “So far, according to ANLA, they have accepted 9,441 intervening third parties.”
CCALCP calls for implementation of T-361
In July 2019, civic leader Erwing Rodríguez-Salah wrote in Razón Publica, “The delimitation of the Santurbán páramo made by the [President Juan Manuel] Santos government in 2014 was the result of interest in facilitating mining activities, and not in protecting the water that the region needs for its life and development.”
He highlights that Resolution 2090 of 2014 “delimited Santurbán with the purpose of legalizing mining companies in the area.”
“Therefore, under the leadership of the Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers Collective, in July 2015 we filed a guardianship action against the Ministry of Environment. The guardianship was ruled by the Constitutional Court in judgment T-361 of 2017. There, the Court considered that Resolution 2090 violated our right to environmental participation and demanded from the Government a new delimitation of the Santurbán páramo.”
CCALCP lawyer Julia Figueroa told El Espectador that T-361 “becomes a precedent in favour of the claims set forth in the guardianship and strengthens the interventions that will be made before the Constitutional Court in our purpose that will generate legal, constitutional and material protection of our Páramo de Santurbán.”
The 317-page judgement can be read at Sentencia T-361/17.
Environmental hearings to resume on November 1
Another El Tiempo article earlier this month also notes that Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development hearings related to the mine would take a two-week break and resume on November 1.
Peace Brigades International and CCALCP
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project, which accompanies CCACLP for their protection, has stated, “Since 2010, CCALCP has supported causes that defend natural resources, especially water, in Santander department.”
“The case of Santurban moor is very relevant. The moor is an important natural resource for Colombia and the source of drinking water for many municipalities in the department of Santander and North Santander.”
PBI-Colombia adds, “Nevertheless, as in other cases in Colombia, concessions have been granted to multinational companies for exploiting mineral resources, which are causing serious environmental impacts.”
For further information on CCALCP’s upcoming speaking tour, please click here.