Colombia: ‘Illegal Mining Should be Treated Like Drug Trafficking’

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Colombia’s mining and energy minister said unlicensed mining “should be given the same treatment as drug trafficking,” due to the connections between armed groups and the mining trade.

In an interview with El Tiempo, Minister Mauricio Cardenas said that police should destroy the machinery confiscated from unlicensed mines, in the same way that police destroy cocaine laboratories.

In some mining-rich areas of Colombia, groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are known to tax mining equipment. The typical fee in northern Antioquia is at least 3 million pesos (about $1,650) for each machine that enters the FARC’s territory.

As mapped by InSight Crime, in other parts of the country criminal groups like the Rastrojos are known to tax production on the gold or coltan mines they control.

Colombia is currently seeing an oil and mining boom, with some 9,500 mining and energy exploration bids currently awaiting approval of their environmental license, Cardenas said.

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