Summary of news 22-28 January, by Jen Moore, Miningwatch Canada
Greystar is a Canadian company with a secondary listing on London’s Alternative Investment Market.
During the last week, Colombia’s Minister of Mines and Energy, Carlos Rodado Noriega, recommended that Greystar redesign its proposed Angostura project, suggesting that it should relocate the cyanide leach pads and saying that the Ministry of Environment “has some well founded concerns.” Although the minister still supported the project, saying it should go ahead given the potential economic development, the company indicated that the propose redesign would implicate a serious overhaul of the project and a revision of the project’s feasibility.
Meanwhile, Colombia’s People’s Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo) added its voice to the opposition, saying that the Minister of Environment should deny Greystar the environmental license it needs to proceed. The Ombudsman’s office released a study noting that the Colombian constitution and a recent decision from the constitutional court are very clear about the need to protect Colombia’s high moors, known as páramos, in which Greystar’s Angostura project is situated. Nationwide, the Ombudsman indicated that 22 páramos are at risk from the impacts of mining. Páramos help regulate about 70% of the water supply that Colombians consume.
An actual decision about Greystar’s environmental license is anticipated following a second public hearing, now scheduled for March 4th 2011 in the city of Bucaramanga. The second public hearing was ordered after citizens of the city of Bucaramanga complained that they were impeded from attending a similar meeting held on November 21st 2010.
Friends of the Earth Colombia (CENSAT) indicates that even before the date was officially published on January 28th that inscriptions were already being received for public interventions at the March  hearing. “The race started before the whistle was even blown,” writes CENSAT’s Tatiana Rodríguez Maldonado, speculating that “surely a large group of people that support Greystar’s project are already at the front of the line.”
To put this in perspective, she adds that over 180 people were signed up to speak at the November 21st public hearing. Based upon the time allotted for this earlier hearing, she indicates that if each person spoke, they would have had less than 2 minutes each. An even larger gathering is anticipated for the March hearing, prompting Rodríguez to ask whether the Minister of Environment will consider additional time for the hearing given the great public interest this project has garnered as it possibly the first open-pit gold mine in the country.
The dispute over Greystar’s Angostura project has remained in the news with high profile television and newspaper coverage in the last two weeks. Over 4,000 Colombians have also reportedly signed an online petition requesting that the Ministry of the Environment not approve Greystar’s environmental licence. (see