The mining sector in Colombia must take advantage of the economic times, contribute to the ecology and improve their image in society.

The processes of exploration and mining generate high impact on the political and socioeconomic states. Mining in Colombia, as well as having an important role in the country’s economic performance in recent years, is widely debated social and political level, the result of environmental damage that the activity generates, and the control of the millionaire royalties that multinationals must pay the government.

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For many countries, mining is the engine of their economies. Chile, known as the Latin American economic miracle, owes to mining much of its growth in recent decades. In the southern country, mining accounts for about 48% of exports, and about 8% of GDP, according to a report by Fedesarrollo.

Similar, although larger-scale impact is the case of Canada, mining country par excellence, stands out above all as a high-level investor entity. In Chile, where there are 59 Canadian companies operating, the American nation’s investments over USD $ 10,000 million, according to information published by Chilean Mining. In Peru, with emphasis on the regional context, Canadian investments are projected at $ 50,000 million by 2016.

In Colombia, the outlook for mining has been improving in recent years. Not surprisingly, President Juan Manuel Santos is confident that the mining sector is one of the key engines for economic growth in Colombia. Furthermore, before the economic crisis that threatens the global environment, Colombia, according to analysts, seems to be strengthened, a factor that generates confidence to undertake an ambitious mining development.The economic environment has been instrumental in the success stories of mining in the world, and by the way has served to overcome the negative social views against mining.

Countries like Australia and Canada, according Fedesarrollo have failed to rebut the traditional theories of economic development are wary of mining, from a critical perspective. Figures for the year 2008 in Canada, the world leader in the production of various raw materials, showed a 6% growth in per income rates, with inflation below 3% annually. This economic environment, supported largely by mining, proved the key to success. The same is true in Chile and Peru, and the present economic Colombian can be exploited to generate trust by the government to the sector, and promote the development and investment.
Currently, mining in Colombia represents 2.6% of GDP according to figures from the Colombian Chamber of Mines, and is expected to reach 7% in the coming years.

The environmental debate

In Colombia, as well as in many countries, many environmental groups are promoting campaigns against mining. The social perception, negative in many sectors compared to mining development requires sound strategies for communication and image to create new paradigms.

Canadian multinational Greystar has already seen the consequences of social pressure against exploitation in Colombia. In Santander, thousands of people shouted against the intentions of the U.S. company in the wasteland of Santurban. Phrases like “we do not want gold, we want water!” And “mining kills” the Colombian government did hesitate to grant an operating permit to the company finally gave up. According to the newspaper The Spectator, this was an unprecedented decision.And at the regional level the image of mining companies is not the best. According to Canadian environmental statements Davik Studnicki-Gizbert, published by the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America, 1,246 Canadian projects pollute the continent.

Because of this, and many other campaigns to discredit mine development, large segments of public opinion see mining as a threat. “Generally, communities nestled in places where mining projects are developed, lack of political resources to make decisions about the reality that responsibility,” said Studnicki-Gizbert.

Royalties and corruption policy

A broad discussion at regional political and has always generated the issue of mining production royalties given to the state. Mismanagement of resources that yield royalties, contributes to the image of mining companies facing deteriorating society, which sees them as economic giants that once devastate natural resources left at the mercy of corrupt politicians their earnings.

According to information from Transparency for Colombia, inexplicably, the departments of Casanare and Arauca who received more than 50% of total royalties during 1994 and 2005 ($ 5,630 million), did not reach the goals in health, education, public services and housing, and reduced their Quality of Life Index.As a result of inappropriate use of the royalties, which served as petty cash from many departments instead of being reinvested, the Colombian government has announced a new policy towards the subject from 2012, which distributed $ 10 billion annually for projects the region.

With the entry into force of the Royalty Act is expected to make a much more equitable distribution among the poorest departments, according to Minisro Finance and Public Credit, Juan Carlos Echeverry.The role of the miners’ unions have been important in the new government measures against the sector. However, their positions are almost always critical. As an example, the portal Business News Americas published statements by spokespersons of the Mining Association of the Valley, who question the control exerted Ingeominas mining. For the union, such control in Colombia is extremely centralized.

The outlook for mining development in Colombia is not very different from living elsewhere. There will always be the ecological debates and the tendency to question the use of the royalties. However, just as we predict economic analysis, the Colombian economy is poised to give new impetus to the sector.