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The Colombian mining locomotive seems to encounter dust, if not stones in the engine when civil actions try to block the advancement of large-scale multinational mining projects. After the massive manifestation in Ibagué-Tolima against AngloGold Ashanti on June the 5th, the national paro minero which started July the 17th still hasn’t lost its momentum. Informal miners continue to block the road at Marmato-Caldas, claiming their territorial rights while facing displacement by state and company pressures. The people fear the worst when Canadian company Gran Colombia Gold plans on transforming Marmato in a large-scale mining pit, where there will be no place for the traditional miners.

After clashes with the ESMAD (mobile anti-disturbance squadron), the miners are anxious for further state criminalization and organized a pacified march on July the 24th to show the real intentions of the roadblock. Meanwhile, last Sunday when the roadblock entered its 12th day of action, the population of the municipality Piedras in the department Tolima, unified to vote in the first Colombian Consulta Popular related to a mining project. With a higher turnout than in a regular Colombian presidential election, 98% of the votes delivered an almost unanimous and celebrated ‘No’ to the planned projects by AngloGold Ashanti and the feared ecological impact on traditional agricultural production and groundwater supplies.

Still, the Consulta Popular doesn’t turn Piedras into a no-go zone for mining while conflicting legislation is eager to rule in favor of megaprojects. AngloGold Ashanti already reacted by stating that the population isn’t well informed of the impact of their projects, and they will continue with their ‘socialization’ process. Simultaneously union representatives from Marmato didn’t succeed to form agreements on 4 crucial points with the Colombian authorities. The mining roadblock in Marmato will continue to pressure the national government.

Nevertheless, while mining TNCs as Gran Colombia Gold and AngloGold Ashanti try to dress their projects in a ‘social character’, the fierce community reactions will deliver a blow in the public image of the companies and cause some ethical problems to further develop their projects.

Bram Ebus