CIRDI Completes First Technical Mission to Chocó, Colombia


Following two previous missions for consultation with government and community to identify technical assistance needs, CIRDI recently completed its first technical field mission to Bebara and Bebarama  (January 24th – February 3rd, 2018). The purpose of the mission was three-fold:

  1. Complete a technical assessment of the mining zone to identify major opportunities for improvement in exploration and recovery techniques
  2. Provide early knowledge exchange and technical capacity building for local miners
  3. Continued trust and confidence building; articulation with local, national and international stakeholders; identification of opportunities for deepening activities related to gender, transcendent knowledge, peace-building

CIRDI’s field team consisted of 4 technical experts:

  • Renowned Yukon Alluvial Geologist
  • Yukon Alluvial Mine Owner/Miner
  • Colombian Geologist familiar with the Choco
  • Colombian Mining Engineer with experience in legal, Colombian alluvial mining operations

The team achieved all mission objectives and found that:

  • There are many similarities between Yukon and Choco gold alluvial gold mining, and high potential for sharing learning and leadership/expertise of Canada
  • ASM miners are very eager to learn more about the Canadian example, which just 30 years ago used many similar techniques and tools, including abundant mercury pollution; Yukon and BC have been leaders in resolving some of the biggest issues associated with small-scale mining, and operating a responsible, formal ASM sector
  • The mining in the area was well organized and provided a good foundation for considerable improvement
  • Current mining practices in the area result in large losses of gold in the recovery process and unnecessary environmental destruction
  • Previously-mined areas are candidates to be re-mined, which will mean lower start-up costs for operation, less environmental damage to “virgin” lands.

The mining community representatives were complimentary of this first mission, indicating learning during the short mission, and are looking forward to a technical recommendations report and a follow-up visit from the CIRDI technical team.