MAC: Mines and Communities

Muriel up against the wall in Colombia

Published by MAC on 2010-03-31
Source: EFE

Court rules company failed to consult local people

A highly controversial new mining project in Colombia has been halted by court order, because the operating company failed to consult with local communities.

Over the past year Muriel Mining's Mande Norte operations have been vigorously attacked by a number of organisations inside and outside Colombia, See:

So, too,  has Rio Tinto's association with Muriel: the UK-Australian giant has an option agreement to "farm-in" to a future mine or its profits. See:



Court Halts Colombia's Biggest Copper Mining Venture


28 March 2010

BOGOTA - The Constitutional Court ordered a halt to Colombia's largest copper mining project, citing a lack of consultation with nearby indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities regarding the environmental and cultural impact of the mine.

"Adequate action was not taken to ensure the communities were aware of the nature of the Mande Norte project and subsequently able to make a decision with full awareness and understanding," the court said in a ruling published Thursday.

The decision requires the Muriel Mining Corporation to suspend exploration and production activities in an area straddling the border between the northwestern provinces of Antioquia and Choco.

Because Muriel's project will inevitably alter the area's ecological balance, the company must comply with its obligation to consult with the communities that inhabit that region and that will be affected by the mining activity, the judges said.

"The Interior and Justice Ministry should have consulted beforehand with all the groups that stand to be affected by the mining project, giving them ample opportunity to understand and participate, which did not occur in this instance," the court added.

It also noted that the development of natural resources in territories traditionally inhabited by indigenous communities must be consistent with the state's obligation to guarantee protection for their social, cultural and economic integrity.

A total of 12 communities belonging to the Embera ethnic group and two Afro-Colombian communities live in the area where Muriel Mining was awarded a 30-year concession.

The multinational's plans for that zone include mining the largest copper deposit discovered in Colombia, as well as reserves of gold and molybdenum.


by Muriel Mining

25 March 2010

"Muriel Mining Company has learned that Colombia's Constitutional Court has ruled that Muriel Mining's consultation process for the Mandé Norte Project should be expanded, and supplemented by environmental impact studies.

Muriel Mining respects the rule of law and the Constitutional Court but cannot offer substantive comment until it has had time to review the judgment and analyze its findings.

Muriel Mining wishes to reaffirm that it has undertaken no exploration activity in the project area for more than a year, and will not do so until any further consultation mandated by the Court has been satisfactorily concluded. The company stands ready to cooperate in any way necessary with any further enquiries the Colombian government may have regarding the project.

The company also would like to state that it maintains its commitment to the well-being of the communities in the project area, and that one of the company's core principles is to operate in a way that is beneficial to those communities."

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