PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR highlights concerns about Cerrejón mine that exports coal from Colombia to Canada

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Cerrejón mine is a large open-pit coal mine located in the southeast department of La Guajira, Colombia owned by the Cerrejón Coal Company, a subsidiary of BHP (Australia), Anglo American (United Kingdom) and Glencore (Switzerland).

On February 5, Colombia Reports reported that Glencore plans to return its title for the Cerrejón mine, but maintain its interests in the Puerto Nuevo coal export port near Santa Maria (that has an export capacity of 21 million tonnes of coal a year).

The article notes: “The announcement comes amid indigenous protests in La Guajira and weeks after human rights organizations asked the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to investigate environmental concerns.”

“[Glencore subsidiary] Prodeco was already facing possible legal consequences over its role in paramilitary violence and land theft.”

That article adds: “The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, urged the Colombian government to order Prodeco, AngloGold Ashanti and BHP to suspend operations in the Cerrejon mine.”

Last year, the PBI-Colombia accompanied José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) had called on Boyd and other Special Rapporteurs to call for “an immediate suspension of the mining operations of Cerrejón” and “in accordance with its Paris Agreement obligations, relevant in order to guarantee the human rights of the Wayuu people, the Colombian State should gradually eradicate coal mining.”

CCAJAR further highlighted the impacts of the mine on the human right to water and noted: “The impact of the mining operation in the dramatic transformations of the water system of [Wayuu] territory in the last 30 years is undeniable.”

Numerous groups in Canada including the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network and MiningWatch Canada have drawn attention to the fact that NB Power has been buying approximately 500,000 tonnes of coal from Cerrejón since the mid 1990s. Nova Scotia Power also imports coal from Cerrejón.

In November 2015, Tracy Glynn from NB Media Co-op reported: “The world’s largest open-pit coal mine is linked to the murders of union and community leaders and violent forced displacements of communities.”

“José Julio Perez from Tabaco, a community that was displaced by the Cerrejón mine, told a Fredericton audience in 2006 that 500 soldiers and 200 police officers forcibly evicted the residents of his Afro-Colombian community before bulldozing their homes in 2001. Indigenous Wayúu, one of the most endangered indigenous communities in the world, have also been displaced for the mine.”

That article also notes: “Exxon-Mobil and the National Colombian Mining Company started the Cerrejón mine in 1982.”

ExxonMobil in partnership with Toronto-based Sintana Energy Inc. is now reportedly seeking a contract to conduct a fracking pilot project near Puerto Wilches, Santander. Drummond, one of the largest coal producers in Colombia, has also prequalified for a fracking pilot project to be awarded next month.

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) since 1995.

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