President Santos of Colombia continues to preach the virtues of what he calls the “mining locomotive” of the economy, based mainly on coal, nickel and gold. But this is met with resistance.
In El Cesar (northeast Colombia) in February 2012 a protest – due to the pollution caused by coal mining – blocked the road between La Jagua de Ibirico and La Loma, where coal leaves the mines La Francia, El Hatillo and El Descanso Norte for the port of Santa Marta. The companies Prodeco, Drummond, and Vale had not fulfilled their obligation to relocate populations. A “tractor-trailer” was crossed onto the tracks, immobilising the train several times a day carrying 135 wagons, each of 60 tonnes, bound for Santa Marta.
One year later, ANLA, the national environmental licensing authority, announced on February 5th, 2013 that licenses to increase coal mining in La Guajira and El Cesar had been denied to several multinational companies. Here, some 90 million tonnes a year are mined and exported to Europe, the United States and other countries. The intention was to increase this figure to 180 million tonnes.
On 13th January 2013 a Drummond barge capsized near Santa Marta and the coal was lost to the sea. ANLA has temporarily removed the company’s license for the shipment of coal.
All is not well.