MAC: Mines and Communities

UK NGOs call for urgent action on Colombian mega-coal mine

Published by MAC on 2012-11-11
Source: CSC, LMN & War on Want (2012-11-06)

Three London-based NGOs have called for urgent action to be taken to avert "an ecological disaster" being committed by three London-listed mining companies in Colombia.

Readers of the UK can ask their Member of Parliament to sign an Early Daily Motion in support of threatened local communities around the Cerrejon coal mine: Early Day Motion 649: British Registered mining companies at El Cerrejon in Colombia

"That this House notes that the Cerrejon coal mine continues to have negative impacts on communities in the Colombian department of La Guajira; further notes that the mine is owned by three companies listed on theLondon Stock Exchange, namely Anglo American, BHPBilliton and Xstrata; supports the demands of the federation of communities affected by the mine, FECODEMIGUA; and thereforecalls on the Government to insist that the UK companies involved accept FECODEMIGUA as a negotiating partner, negotiate compensation and relocation agreements with communities forcibly displaced before the current owners bought into the mine in 2000 as well as with those currently being displaced, take proactive measures to remedy the grave social, health and environmental damage inflicted upon the inhabitants of the region and undertake not to implement the proposed diversion of the river Rancheria, opposed by FECODEMIGUA as a potential social and ecological disaster." See http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/649.

Joint urgent action request from Colombia Solidarity Campaign, London Mining Network and War on Want

6 November 2012

Three huge mining companies listed on the London Stock Exchange own Colombian company Cerrejon Coal, operator of the Cerrejon opencast coal mine in the department of La Guajira in Colombia.

Mine expansion over the years has caused forced displacement of agricultural communities, and more communities face displacement for further expansion. Cerrejon Coal also want to divert the River Rancheria, the only river of any significant size in La Guajira, in order to get at coal underneath its bed. Local communities fear an ecological disaster.

We are told that a debate on mining is scheduled in the Colombian Senate on 14 November. Please send the following letter, or a similar letter, to the Chief Executive Officers of the three London-listed companies, and to the Colombian government departments, listed below the letter, BEFORE 14 November if possible.

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Dear

I am writing in support of communities displaced by the activities of Cerrejon Coal in Colombia. As you know, the history of the Cerrejon mine is one of forced displacement of communities, and unjust and brutal treatment.

First, I urge that you insist that the company abandon its proposal to divert the River Rancheria, which would cause further incalculable loss to many more communities through its negative and permanent impact on the hydrology, flora and fauna of the Department of La Guajira, Colombia's driest region.

There have been allegations that the company is conducting a consultation on this project in Wayuu Indigenous communities in a manner which violates Colombian law on prior consultation, and that inducements have been offered to community members - which, if true, would constitute a violation of the UK Bribery Act by the London-listed corporate owners of the mine.

Secondly, I understand that the Cerrejon Coal company is currently negotiating community relocation arrangements with several communities (including Roche, Chancleta and Tamaquitos) which are in the process of involuntary displacement for the planned expansion of the mine. I absolutely reject the forced displacement of any community by large-scale mining activities, because of the negative human, social and economic impact which forced displacement invariably has upon communities.

I believe that protection of local communities and their territories, culture, traditions and way of life should always come first. However, given that these negotiations are already in progress, we support the communities' demands that you ensure that they receive not only acceptable housing, but adequate land of sufficient quality and quantity to ensure that community members can continue their agricultural way of life should they wish to do so.

I also understand that the agreement made in December 2008 between the company and former residents of the village of Tabaco has been stalled and that the promised construction of a new community has still not begun.

This situation is completely unacceptable, given the brutal and inhuman treatment which they have already suffered, beginning with their violent forced eviction in 2001 and continuing until the present day due to the grinding poverty in which they have been forced to live. I support the Tabaco community's demand that all the terms of the agreement be fulfilled and that a new village be built without delay.

I also support the demands of those communities displaced without relocation agreements or adequate compensation before the current owners of the mine bought into the company in 2000, and urge that you ensure that Cerrejon Coal enter into meaningful negotiations with them. In particular, I urge that you ensure that the company:

· Accept FECODEMIGUA (the federation of communities affected by mining in La Guajira) and the leaders of the communities of Caracoli, El Descanso, Manantial, Palmarito and Zarahita, all displaced before 2000, as legitimate negotiating partners and enter into a serious discussion of their demands;

· Offer these communities, as well as those displaced since 2000, relocation agreements which, at an absolute minimum, fulfil the recommendations of the International Finance Corporation concerning involuntary displacement, including decent housing and amenities, access to adequate quantities of agricultural land of a quality at least equal to the land that they have lost, investment in agreed economic projects, and compensation for loss of land and disruption to their livelihood and way of life over an extended period.

I look forward to receiving a positive response from you that is matched by the communities confirming that there has been positive action on the ground.

Yours sincerely,

Please send this letter by post to:

Marius Kloppers, CEO, and Jac Nasser, Chairman,
BHP Billiton plc,
Neathouse Place,
London SW1V 1BH.

Cynthia Carroll, CEO, and Sir John Parker, Chairman,
Anglo American plc,
20 Carlton House Terrace,
London SW1Y 5AN.

Mick Davis, CEO, and Sir John Bond, Chairman,
Xstrata plc
1st Floor, Almack House
26-28 King Street
London SW1Y 6QW.

Please send this letter by email to:

Colombian embassy:
Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez Munera, elondres@cancilleria.gov.co

President's office:
President Juan Manuel Santos, contactopresidencia@presidencia.gov.co

Vice President's office:
Vice President Angelino Garzon, contactovicepresidencia@presidencia.gov.co

Directora del Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario
ALMA VIVIANA PÉREZ, almaperez@presidencia.gov.co

Director Programa Presidencial para la formulación de estrategias y acciones para el desarrollo de la Población Afrocolombiana, Negra, Palenquera y Raizal
ÓSCAR GAMBOA ZÚÑIGA, oscargamboa@presidencia.gov.co

Director Programa Presidencial para la formulación de estrategias y acciones para el desarrollo integral de los Pueblos Indígenas de Colombia
GABRIEL MUYUY JACANAMEJOY, gabrielmuyuy@presidencia.gov.co

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