World Bank tribunal rules Colombia not liable to pay $736-million in damages to Vancouver-based Eco Oro Minerals

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: When Colombian human rights defenders from CCALCP and CREDHOS visited Canada in November 2019, they went to the Vancouver office of Eco Oro at 1055 West Hastings Street. More on that story here.

On September 13, the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) tweeted: “In 2019, before Canadian authorities in dialogue on FTA, we exposed the co-responsibility in environmental impacts of extractive companies in Colombia; knowing how to use and insist on projects despite internal protection gaps.”

CCALCP also tweeted: “The Constitutional Court has ordered the protection of moors in Colombia. Meanwhile, companies and the State have weighed extractive interests on regulation based on detailed hydrogeological studies and current in process T-361 of 2017.”

T-361/17

In July 2019, civic leader Erwing Rodríguez-Salah wrote in Razón Publica, “The delimitation of the Santurbán páramo made by the 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.”

He adds: “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. The Court considered that Resolution 2090 violated our right to environmental participation and demanded from the Government a new delimitation of the Santurbán páramo.”

At the time of the ruling in February 2016, CCALCP lawyer Julia Adriana Figueroa Cortés 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.

World Bank tribunal decision

Mining Weekly reports: “Colombia’s government said on Friday [September 10] a World Bank tribunal has ruled it is currently not liable to pay $736-million in damages to Eco Oro Minerals after the Canadian mining company alleged that the Andean nation’s prohibition on mining in high-altitude wetlands constituted an indirect expropriation.”

Vanguardia adds: “According to the agency, the measure adopted by the country was not discriminatory against the investors of the mining company and also sought to protect a legitimate objective, such as the protection of the environment.”

However, Forbes reports: “The court also clarified that it is still necessary to specify whether Colombia did not apply the standard of fair and equitable treatment, included in the minimum level of treatment that is contemplated in the treaty signed between Colombia and Canada. …In turn, the Court enunciated certain findings regarding the damages, but has not determined the compensation that would be awarded to Eco Oro as a result of the violation of the Treaty, the information added.”

And Mining Weekly also notes: “In its own statement, Eco Oro celebrated that the tribunal found Colombia acted in violation of investment protection norms enshrined in the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia, which means the case will continue.”

We continue to follow this.

For additional context, please see CCALCP opposed Vancouver-based Eco Oro mining in Colombia’s Santurbán wetland and Vancouver-based Eco Oro sues Colombia for $764 million through the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.


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