Colombian Energy Minister in Toronto, says coal exports to Canada have increased since Russian invasion of Ukraine
Photo: Yesterday, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) tweeted: “We have shut down Front St in downtown Toronto and closed down traffic in front of #PDAC2022. We are standing with representatives from mining-impacted communities who have come to condemn PDAC & Canadian mining in their territories.”
On June 13, Mining.com reported: “Colombia is set to increase coal and petroleum production as it steps up to fill the void created by sanctions against Russia, Energy Minister Diego Mesa said on Monday.”
“[Colombia] has restarted coal exports to Ireland, Mesa said on the sidelines of Canada’s PDAC conference in Toronto. Colombia has also increased its coal exports to the Netherlands, Spain and Canada since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he added.”
The article further notes: “Mesa said he expects Colombian oil production to reach at least 800,000 barrels per day by end of this year and up to 900,000 barrels per day by 2023. ‘Any excess production will be put to international use,’ he said.”
The article also specifies: “Poland has signed for one million tonnes of coal from [the Birminghm, Alabama-based transnational] Drummond and is expected to place a contract for an additional two million tonnes, [Mesa] said.”
The Drummond website notes: “Our Colombian mining operation includes the Mina Pribbenow and El Descanso open-pit coal mines located in the Cesar Coal Basin. Today, we own and manage roughly 2 billion tons of reserves in La Loma, El Descanso, Rincόn Hondo, Similoa, and Cerrolargo, the last three are in the process of environmental licensing.”
Glencore – El Cerrejon
Two weeks ago, Deutsche Welle reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke with Colombian President Ivan Duque about El Cerrejon in early-April. The Chancellor wants to import more coal from this mine to end its reliance on Russian coal.
Numerous groups in Canada including the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network and MiningWatch Canada have also drawn attention to the fact that NB (New Brunswick) Power has been buying approximately 500,000 tonnes of coal from Cerrejón since the mid-1990s. Nova Scotia Power also imports coal from Cerrejón.
The El Cerrejon coal mine, located in the department of La Guajira, is the biggest open pit mine in Latin America covering an area the size of 100 soccer fields. It also consumes 30 million litres of water every day. It is now fully owned by the Swiss company Glencore.
The Deutsche Welle article further notes: “Around 5,000 Wayuu children have died of starvation and thirst in the region around the mine.”
Rosa Maria Mateus Parra, a lawyer with the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), explains: “It’s caused by the shortage of water, because rivers and streams are contaminated, or have dried. And the lack of food because coal is now mined where indigenous communities grew their vegetables. Those children who survive have skin rashes and respiratory diseases because of the fine particle pollution.”
In 2020, CCAJAR asked UN Special Rapporteur David R. Boyd 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.”
Last year, CCAJAR helped launch a constitutional action against El Cerrejon.
Their media statement at that time explained: “[Wayuu] 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.”
We continue to follow this situation.
The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied CCAJAR since 1995.
Colombian Mines and Energy minister Diego Mesa.