“Colombia Day” at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) mining conference in Toronto
Twitter photo: Juan Camilo Nariño, President of the Colombian Mining Association.
Wednesday June 15 was “Colombia Day” at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) mining conference in Toronto.
Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy Diego Mesa Puyo was at PDAC 2022, which ran from June 13-15 this year. The Northern Miner reports: “At PDAC, he announced the launch of the country’s first strategic mining areas for gold, opening up four blocks of claims in the department of Antioquia for bidding.”
Colombia’s national mining agency (Agencia Nacional de Minería/ANM) was also present at PDAC in Toronto this year. They stated: “With the aim of positioning Colombia as an investment destination and presenting the most representative advances and achievements of the mining sector, the ANM is preparing its participation in PDAC 2022, considered the most important mining fair in the world.”
The agenda for “Colombia Day” notes that its corporate speakers included representatives from the Vancouver-based companies Aris Gold Corp., B2 Gold Corp./Gramalote Colombia, Origen Artisanal Gold S.A.S, Minerales Cordoba SAS and the Toronto-based companies Collective Mining Ltd., Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., Gran Colombia Gold.
In this report, the Working Group on Mining and Human Rights in Latin America (that includes the PBI-Colombia accompanied CCAJAR legal collective) noted: “José Reinel Restrepo, Parish priest of Marmato, Department of Caldas, Colombia, who led the resistance against the displacement of his community due to the activities of Gran Colombia Gold. His killing occurred on September 1, 2011, remains in impunity.”
Colombia Detail Zero also reports: “PDAC will be the stage to show that Colombia has geological potential to provide minerals for the energy transition such as copper, nickel, iron, manganese, among others.”
And Mesa says: “Without mining, the energy transition is not possible. The Government of President Iván Duque has committed to promoting the energy transition in the country and we have understood that the mining sector is a key ally in this objective.”
Concerns – “energy transition”
While Mesa framed mining as part of the energy transition, Kirsten Francescone of MiningWatch Canada commented: “The mining industry is profiting off the climate crisis as it tries to paint unprecedented mineral extraction as somehow good for the planet. But we need to call out PDAC for what it is: a space to greenwash an industry responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in history.”
Francescone also stated: “What we see on the ground in Latin America, just like here in Canada, is the Canadian companies [are] committing environmental and human rights crimes.”
Apart from greenwashing, the issue of purplewashing has been noted.
Friends of the Earth International has explained:
“Of special concern are initiatives tainted by greenwashing and purplewashing. These terms are used when states and corporations paint their actions as environmentalist and feminist, while continuing to place profits above the lives of the majority of the people, advancing environmental destruction and reinforcing patriarchy. Both greenwashing and purplewashing are already found in the field of the energy transition.”
Illegal armed groups
And commenting on the situation in Antioqua, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has noted:
“The abundance of natural resources in these lands and the arrival of multinational companies, such as the Canadian Gran Colombia Gold, has provided the illegal armed groups who are present in the region with an extremely lucrative funding source in mining.
In the Nordeste Antioqueño, a highly militarized region, communities have resisted by activating their own protection protocols, in the face of a lack of state support to guarantee their safety.
Despite the enormous work carried out by human rights organizations such as the Peasant Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC) and the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence Peace in Northeast Antioquia (CAHUCOPANA), both accompanied by PBI, the violence seems to be endless.”
We continue to monitor the intersection between Canadian mining interests in Colombia, related human rights violations, and the work of PBI accompanied organizations who support communities resisting environmental and social harms.
Elliot Lake Today: “For almost two hours, a large crowd of community leaders blocked Front Street in downtown Toronto to protest against the negative impact on workers and the environment from the operations of major mining companies around the world.”
Further reading: An overview of Canadian mining operations in Colombia (August 21, 2021)