CCAJAR reports OECD National Contact Points will evaluate conduct of multinationals in relation to mine that exports coal to Canada

Published by Brent Patterson on


On January 26, CCAJAR reported: “The National Contact Points of Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom admitted the complaints filed by several Colombian and international organizations against the multinational companies Glencore, Anglo American and BHP, owners of the Carbones del Cerrejón Company, which for two decades have profited from the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America in La Guajira, Colombia.”

The Cerrejón mine is owned by the Cerrejón Coal Company, a subsidiary of BHP (Australia), Anglo American (United Kingdom) and Glencore (Switzerland).

The CCAJAR statement adds: “After analyzing the complaints, these bodies published an initial assessment statement in which they found sufficient reasons for the issues raised to be examined in more detail. In this way, the national points will continue to evaluate the conduct of multinationals in their contributions to the negative impacts on the human and environmental rights of the mine in Colombia in light of the minimum standards established by the OECD Guidelines and UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

Media coverage

El Espectador further explains: “A complaint from NGOs from around the world was admitted for study in instances of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and now in these three countries it will be studied whether Glencore, BHP and Anglo American, the multinational companies that own the coal mine in Colombia, have complied with the guidelines of respect for human rights. The complaint calls for the mine to be closed.”

That article adds: “While the OECD authorities were reviewing the complaints, BHP and Anglo American sold their stakes in Cerrejón to Glencore. That is, the Swiss multinational remained as the sole owner of the coal mine. Given this scenario, one of the preliminary decisions is that the process will continue its course before the PNC of Switzerland. However, as announced by CCAJAR, they will insist that the actions of the other two companies be evaluated right there during the time they had activity in La Guajira.”

Caracol also reports The OECD will evaluate complaints against owners of Cerrejón, Infobae reports OECD accepts complaints against multinationals that own El Cerrejón and El Heraldo reports The OECD will evaluate complaints against multinationals that own Cerrejón.

Colombian coal exports to Canada

The Infobae article notes: “It is worth remembering that there were three cases that were presented in January 2021 due to the ‘multiple impacts of the mine to the detriment of the life and human rights of the indigenous, Afro-descendant and peasant populations of La Guajira, as well as the lack of due diligence and non-compliance with OECD guidelines’… The first complaint was filed against the ESB, Electricity Supply Board, a state company of Irish origin and one of the main buyers of coal from El Cerrejón.”

We also recall that the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN) and MiningWatch Canada have highlighted 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, Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, a Colombian lawyer and union leader, asked NB Power to put conditions on the coal leaving his country. He further stated that if NB Power cannot guarantee the rights of labour and Indigenous peoples from its current sources, then it should buy from other sources that respect the rights of those affected.

Unfortunately, NB Power continues to import this coal and burn it at its plant in Belledune, which is located north of Fredericton.

NS Energy has also reported: “[Montreal, Quebec-based] SNC Lavalin was engaged in a major mining infrastructure upgrade and operation optimisation project in 2011 that involved the mine facility upgrades, railway network expansion, as well as the improvement of port material handling facilities at Puerto Bolivar.”

Communities impacted by the mine

About half of the population impacted by the mine are ethnic and Indigenous peoples, including the Wayuu, the largest group, the Wiwa, Arhuaco and Kogui peoples, as well as Afro-descendant and campesino (peasant) communities.

The media release that announced the constitutional action noted: “These communities have suffered serious violations of human rights, affecting their right to a decent life, to water, to health, to food security and sovereignty, to information, to participation and to free prior and informed consent, among others.”

CCAJAR calls for an immediate suspension of the mine

CCAJAR has previously called for “an immediate suspension of the mining operations of Cerrejón” and further stated that “in accordance with its Paris Agreement obligations, relevant to guarantee the human rights of the Wayuu people, the Colombian State should gradually eradicate coal mining.”

The remaining mine life of Cerrejon is estimated to be until 2033.

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

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