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Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) in Colombia has a long history significantly shaped by conflict. An estimated 340,000 Colombians – both directly and indirectly – depend upon the sector, which when left unmanaged may serve as a financial instrument for armed groups and civil conflict. Mining activities in Chocó, Colombia’s second-largest gold producing region, have failed to tangibly benefit the local people due to a lack of formality, control, and surveillance, which invites corruption and creates barriers for equitable benefit sharing.
It is believed that a peaceful and collaborative transition of control of ASGM activities is key to addressing the environmental degradation arising from the sector’s informality. In Choco, it is estimated that 97% of all small-scale gold mines operate without environmental permits, leading to deforestation, biodiversity loss, chemical contamination, and river siltation. While governance reforms over the last 25 years have striven to improve the socioeconomic benefits and minimize the environmental risks of artisanal mining, the potential impacts of regulatory and political reforms have not been fully realized. The development of the ASGM sector in Colombia represents an opportunity to not only to lower poverty but also safeguard environmental resources and strengthen post-conflict consultation.
In collaboration with national government institutions, local authorities, and FARC leadership this project aimed to address issues impeding the formalization and long-term viability of the sector for miners and vulnerable populations, including Afro-Colombian miners. In particular, the project increased beneficiary access to geologic information, enhanced understanding of ASGM livelihoods and resource issues regarding ancestral mining activities, and helped regulators make informed decisions regarding land-use in former conflict zones. The project prepared ASGM practitioners to increase women’s participation in decision-making and provide local training in improved prospecting, extraction, and processing techniques to reduce environmental impacts and enhance profits.
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 […]