Cerrejon coal mine

In the valley of the Rancheria River in La Guajira region, Cerrejon is one of the largest open-pit mines in the world: it occupies more than 69,000 hectares, extracts up to 33 million tonnes of coal a year, and holds an exploitation licence until 2034. This coal has mainly been exported for consumption in Europe, particularly to fuel power stations in Germany, the Netherlands and, until 2019, the UK.

Cerrejon was named after a mountain sacred to the Wayuu indigenous people. In 2000 a multinational consortium involving Anglo American, BHP and Xstrata bought 50% of the mine. In 2001, the entire Afro-Colombian community of Tabaco was forcibly displaced by the mine. Despite a Colombian Court ordering the reconstruction of the town, the company and local authorities have not yet fulfilled the court order. In 2002, the three-company consortium bought the remaining 50% of the mine. Xstrata’s share was subsequently bought by Glencore. Indigenous human rights abuses, from forced displacement and health disparities to environmental degradation, have occurred consistently during the mine’s operation. In January 2022, Glencore completed purchase of Anglo American’s and BHP’s shares in the mine.

Curtis Mark (2018) “The rivers are bleeding” https://waronwant.org/sites/default/files/the-rivers-are-bleeding-updated.pdf

Solly Richard (2021) “Tabaco: 20 years since eviction and still no justice” https://londonminingnetwork.org/2021/08/tabaco-20-years-since-eviction-and-still-no-justice/