To continue the story of Cerro Matoso from 1997 above, in 2015 a new company, South32, was spun out of BHP and took over the Cerro Matoso operations, allowing BHP to distance itself from an operation laden with liabilities. Despite BHP’s denial of its role in the deteriorating health of nearby communities, in March 2018 the Colombian Constitutional Court found South32 (the new company) responsible for irreparable damage to local communities and ordered it to compensate those communities. After South32 appealed, the compensation order was nullified by the court in September 2018. The company was allowed to continue its mining operations whilst at the same time responding to the Court order to re-apply for its mining licensing as its operations did not meet environmental standards.
Local communities have been targeted by paramilitaries, threats and violence being directed at critics of the company’s operations.