The department of La Guajira is the largest coal producer in the Colombia. The mining complex of El Cerrejón is the largest open pit coal mine in Latin America and accounts for 46% of Colombia’s total coal exports. The sales of coal produce an income of approximately US$2,500 million with an operating profit of 58%, a business return like no other. In spite of generating such financial riches the level of basic needs being met are far from satisfactory, and 62% of the inhabitants of la Guajira live in poverty and underdevelopment.
El Cerrejón is comprised of the companies AngloAmerican, Xstrata* and BHP Billiton, each owning 33.3% of the mine.
Inhabitants from the community of Tabaco were violently and forcefully displaced on the 9th August 2001 to make way for the out of control expansion of El Cerrejón. In the last ten years this expansion has also encompassed the communities of Oreganal, Roche, Chancleta, Patilla, Las Casitas, Barrancón and also led to the struggle and organized process of the Wayuu communitiy in the south of the department.
Today the company is planning to continue its expansion by diverting 26 Km the course of the Rancheria River, the main water source for the whole department of La Guajira, as underneath the riverbed there are 500 million tonnes of coal . This would leave thousands of Guajiros without water and without the right to life.
As a result of the high impact on the ecosystem and the displacement of communities, Fecodemigua, Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Sur de la Guajira, AACIWASUG, Movimiento  Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu, Comité de Residentes de Cañaverales, Reclame Guajira and Sintracarbon, organized a meeting on the 8th August 2011 and formed the La Guajira Civic Committee Against Large Transnational Mining.
* Xstrata is itself one-third owned by London-listed Swiss company Glencore.