In one, Canadian mining company Greystar backed off of its plan for a huge open-pit gold mine near the city of Bucaramanga, after environmental authorities said the project was unacceptable. Colombia is experiencing a gold mining boom as the metal's price has soared - with its related environmental impacts: jungles and wetlands destroyed and rivers poisoned with mercury and choked with silt.
The proposed Greystar Mine might have been better than most - the company had promised to reforest six acres for each one destroyed and to carefully manage the cyanide it used. And, the company argued, much of the area planned for its mine had already been damaged by illegal, informal miners, who use even-more-damaging mercury.
|Illegal mining's devastation - the worst of all worlds. (Foto: Dinero magazine)|
|Map showing mining concessions overlaid on |
forest areas in the Serrania de San Lucas.
Now, Greystar is talking about building instead an undergound mine, which would cause much less environmental impact, but produce less gold and be more dangerous for miners. That could be a reasonable compromise, and would demonstrate that Colombia's environmental laws do mean something.
If Colombian officials respect the spirit of the laws protecting paramos, these critical wetlands could be preserved for more future generations - or at least until they fall victim to global warming.
|Jumping for joy?|
In 2009, the Dominican Republic joined the IWC, leaving Venezuela as the only Latin American nation outside of the organizaion. (Some small Carribean nations have joined apparently at the behest of Japan and defend its whale hunting.)
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours