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PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE: Large Scale Mining Creates Social Division in Caramanta: Is this Corporate Social Responsibility?


December 8, 2013


The organized community of the municipality of Caramanta, department of Antioquia has been in the process of getting to know our territory with the objetives of protecting it, valuing it and defending those aspects of nature that are essential to daily life in the countryside and the city. Water, soil, forest, biological diversity, history, culture, identity and the campesino economy are a fundamental and integral part of the territory, the same that is under threat from a number of extractive industry companies that have come here without any prior consultation.

With the support of compliant institutions, these mining exploration companies have undertaken a campaign to smear and divide, which is used as a strategy to gain power and “acceptance” from certain social sectors. 

In recent days, the (Toronto-based) company Solvista indicated its interest to leave the territory, informing businesspeople, friends and employees that it would depart because there are “people that won’t let them work” in town. In addition to these declarations, some past employees of the company have commented that they have been left without work for the fault of the organized community within the municipality, asking, “who will provide work and food for their families?” 

Given these remarks, it is important to recall several things: First, large scale mining does not generate long lasting employment that will benefit all, something which “Solvista” itself affirmed in a session of the environmental roundtable when the company indicated that the community held false expectations, since they could not offer as much work as people hoped, much less the work that is responsibility of the state. 

Secondly, the company has freely operated during the last three years in the municipality without any impediments to its work. Third, if the company decides to leave, it will be because it has accomplished its objectives. Fourth, the company received a notice from Corantioquia (the regional environmental authority) in which it was denied a permit to take work in a native forest, in which it had already been operating. As a result, Corantioquia initiated a process to sanction the company. It is worth mentioning that the environmental authority’s notice was received in the Municipal Administration office, but was not disseminated publicly as required. 

Fifth, the company Solvista is not leaving Caramanta, given that it has indicated its interest in aligning with the company, IAMGOLD, which has been operating in the area of Chirapotó, San Antonio, Sucre, Aguaditas, San José La Guaira, La Unión, La Frisolera and Alegrías. What company once it has invested and cultivated so much ground is going to leave? 

As a result, the below signed organizations: 

·               Reject the social division and poor environment that the presence of mining companies in the municipality has provoked and observe that the irrresponsible acts of these companies are already evident in the discord between people who have been friends, neighbours and relatives.

·               Reject the use of more than 300,000 litres of treated water destined for mining exploration, for the company “Corporación Minera de Colombia,” which is operating in Yarumalito. This is socially and environmentally irresponsible, given that the water is being literally thrown away; potable water that no campesino family enjoys in this municipality.

·               Demand that the Municipal Administration publicly disseminate the resolution issued by Corantioquia denying Solvista’s request to operate in the forested area “DMI Cuchilla Jardín Tamésis” and make public its own position regarding large scale mining.

·               Demand that the mining companies publicly clarify that in the exploitation phase that will undertake open-pit operations, outlining the consequences, given that this has never been mentioned, supposedly because these are exploration and not mining development companies… but does one not have to do with the other?

·               Invite the general public to continue defending our territory, that we not allow our water, our soil, our dignity, our economy and our farms to be appropriated. We will continue to recognize, value, produce and resist in our territory, to strengthen our own economy and agricultural tradition.

·               Believe that large scale mining is a false solution to poverty in Colombia that is being promoted through deception and false expectations. We recall that Law 685 of 2001, the Mining Code, declared mining of public utility in the social interest and as such can lead to expropriation of farms and land.

·               Denounce the strategy of “social and environmental responsibility” being employed to obtain the social licence from the community through diverse projects including vegetable gardens, coffee, markets, school kits, water management, support to the Community Action Committee, improvements in the Municipal Council, etc., while they seek to take what is ours: the territory. 

Our true ‘El Dorado’ is water, soil, identity and campesino culture. 

The gold that these companies will extract will be deposited in international banks to save economies in their countries of origin. 

When you have cut down the last tree, dried the last river, and sterilized the last bit of soil, you will realize that you can’t eat either money or gold… 

There is no responsible mining, neither socially nor environmentally. 

Where is there a people living prosperously and peacefully from mining? 











Original in Spanish:

Communidades de Caramanta - Antioquia