MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Govt: Mining law changes seek to free up land

Published by MAC on 2007-05-04

Govt: Mining law changes seek to free up land

BNAmericas, By Harvey Beltrán

4th May 2007

Modifications that the Colombian government is making to the country's mining law aim to free up areas that are being used for speculative purposes, the country's mining director, Beatriz Duque, told BNamericas. The changes affect 18 articles and seek - among other things - to apply a royalty payment at the time land is requested, expand technical and financial requisites and strengthen auditing procedures, the executive said.

The government decided to apply the measures as there are often no areas available when companies express interest in exploration as the land is in the hands of speculators who keep the property inactive. "As a government, we want to avoid that. We want companies that are truly interested in exploring the territory and then moving to develop mining projects," Duque said. The changes are also focused on improving labor conditions, clearing up some issues regarding construction materials and expanding public works.

As to what will happen to areas that were awarded and have not been developed, Duque said that "the issue will be resolved with time."

INSTALMENTS

The bill has already been submitted to Colombia's congress, which will hold talks to allow for broad discussion of the proposals among all sectors.

"We hope to organize at least two discussions about the bill during the first half and additional talks in the second half of the year," Duque said.

INVESTORS

There are currently several mining companies that wish to invest in the country and Brazilian mining and metals group CVRD recently opened an office in the country, as did London-based senior Rio Tinto and Canada's Barrick Gold, according to Duque.

In 2006, Colombia's mining sector picked up 32% of foreign investments in the country with close to US$2.1bn, "and we know that a large amount of that figure is being tagged for exploration," Duque said.

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