New Mining Code Amendments Attempt To Strike Balance
There is a report today on Portafolio.com (iGoogle(R) translation) discussing the effect of recent amendments passed by the Colombian Congress and approved by the President designed to revamp the national Mining Code. The report states that Mines and Energy Minister Hernan Martinez Torres, announced at a forum with Antioquia Governor Luis Alfredo Ramos, that the law makes adjustments to the mining code designed both to promote the industry and protect the environment.
The amendments require the Government to develop a mining management plan, designed to avoid conflicts. Extensions of mining concessions lasting twenty years will be permitted with a minimum two years but will not be automatic and must be shown to benefit the interests of the country.
The Governor of Antioquia, Luis Alfredo Ramos, has called for tougher mining laws to avoid predation in areas bordering the rivers and in some regions of Antioquia and Cauca. Government intervention is necessary, Ramos said, to protect the environment and water resources. Ramos alleged that there is a strong predation between municipalities and Girardota and Bello, in the northern metropolitan area of Medellin, Antioquia. He said it is essential to bring order to the mining sector, since the rules are lax and there is little governors such as he can do to mitigate their effects.
Another short review of the amendments, repuiblished on MetalsPlace.com, comes from Business News America.
One of the most significant changes the amendments will make is to increase state control over mining contracts in order to avoid speculation in mining areas.
The reforms also give small businesses the chance to legalize themselves with the aim of doing away with informal mining.
In addition, the amendments limit mining in national parks and other protected territories.
A brief mention of the amendments, when they were still under consideration, can be found in a presentation entitled “Mining Reform in Africa & Latin America: Sharing Experiences,” (slide 13) by Ana Elizabeth Bastida & Anida Yupari, at the Fourth International Study Group for the Review of African Mining Regimes (ISG) Meeting, Addis Ababa, March 11 2009:
- Recent amendments to allow the state to reserve areas for Large scale mining to be granted under contracts similar to concession contracts in the oil sector – company given rights to explore/exploit deposits in a specific geographic area.
- Regulation of lands belonging to indigenous communities:
- Preference right to be granted mineral rights in their areas
- Ban on mining in lands considered as sacred
- Royalties to be directed on infrastructure and services to benefit communities