Eco Oro threatens to sue Colombia over páramo

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Eco Oro Colombia
Colombia’s páramos are a vital ecosystem, providing 85% of fresh water.

With three international mining companies including Eco Oro threatening to sue Colombia, Julian Kircher takes a look at a classic case of green vs gold, as environmental ethics tangle with economic expansion


The mining industry accounts for about 7% of Colombia’s GPD, and has been one of the driving forces behind the country’s growth over the past decade.

According to a report from BN Americas, foreign direct investment in the mining sector sank to USD$533 million in 2015; the first time the figure has been below USD$1 billion in more than a decade.

While the country has a wealth of resources, the industry has been affected by the activities of guerrilla groups and BACRIMs in rural areas ­– putting both operations and personnel at risk – as well as the prevalence of illegal mining, a complicated bureaucratic structure and a global industry slowdown.

The report states, “Colombia’s regulatory framework has confounded mining companies with tricky rules for obtaining environmental permits despite serious government efforts to reform and clarify the requirements and the institutions responsible for enforcing them.”

This is certainly the case in the ongoing dispute with Canadian mining company, Eco Oro.

In March this year, Eco Oro announced that if they could not reach an amicable settlement with the Colombian government over its rights to exploit its Angostura Project located in Santander, they would take the dispute to international arbitration. The company upped the ante on July 22 by announcing a USD$14 million investment deal with Tenor capital.

“With this investment, Eco Oro will be completely funded to the extent we are unable to resolve the dispute amicably with the Government of Colombia and, instead, decide to move forward with arbitration”, said Mark Moseley-Williams, president and chief executive officer of the Company.

The Angostura project dates back to 1995 when Eco Oro (then called Greystar Resources) began their exploration programme. Since then, there have been a number of changes to the law, leading to a series of environmental impact assessments and legal challenges to the company’s activities.

Part of the dispute stems from confusion over where exactly the boundaries of the páramo – a protected ecosystem – actually are, and the legal status of Eco Oro’s ‘special permissions’ to carry out their activities there.

The first nail in the coffin for Eco Oro’s activities came in February, when Colombia’s constitutional court ruled that all mining in the páramos was illegal. Previously, companies had been operating under a loophole that exempted mining licenses issued before February 2010. The court deemed these exceptions ‘unconstitutional’ and cited the ecological importance of the páramos, including their role in providing 85% of the country’s drinking water.

The National Mining Agency said that 473 titles would be affected by the ruling, 284 of which are currently in operation. Eco Oro is the first to announce it will take legal action, but business analysts suggest they will not be the last.

This type of company vs state dispute is becoming increasingly common. Free trade agreements allow big corporations to take on governments when local laws or rulings go against commercial agreements.

This is one of three investment disputes that are in the pipeline against Colombia. Canadian and US companies Cosigo Resources and Tobie Mining & Energy are suing for USD$16.5 billion (the amount their experts valued the gold deposits for) plus costs. The companies lost their mining concession after the area in Taraira (near the border with Brazil) where they had planned to mine was designated as a national park.

Eco Oro Colombia
Previously Greystar, Eco Oro’s Angostura mining interests have been hanging in the balance since a Colombian court ruled that the páramos were to be protected.

In March, Swiss coal giant Glencore announced that it would sue Colombia after the government moved the goalposts on the permits for their Calenturitas and La Jagua mines.

In the case of Eco Oro, the company objects to the “unreasonable delay” in clarifying the boundary of the Santurbán Páramo and a ‘persistent failure to provide clarity’ about the company’s right to develop its project.

Jennifer Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for Mining Watch disagrees. “Eco Oro should have abandoned this project a while ago,” she told The Bogotá Post. “Eco Oro’s environmental impact assessment of the Angostura gold project wasn’t approved a number of years ago, precisely because its mine project overlaps with this ecosystem.”

She continues, “The current investment protection framework means that it can, on one hand, roll the dice on this abusive wager to see if it can pressure Colombia to bend to the company’s will through this suit, or, on the other, potentially come out with a multi-million dollar award, whether or not it ever puts a mine into operation. It’s a perverse situation that shouldn’t be allowed to take place.”

Mining Watch has been working alongside a number of other organisations, including the Latin American Network for Environmental Defence (AIDA) and the Centre for International Environmental Law since 2012. They have been assisting The Committee for Defence of Water and the Santurbán Páramo in their complaint with the World Bank’s equity investment in the Angostura project.

Carlos Lozano, a senior attorney at AIDA echoes Moore’s objections. “With this, Eco Oro sends a message: they do not respect the Colombian law. We wonder whether they will use money from the World Bank to sue the Colombian government.”

He says that there is no legal framework for Eco Oro to appeal the decision, so the effect of the decision is that “they have to leave the páramo, immediately.”

However, Eco Oro still seem to hold out hope for an amicable resolution with the government, which has so far been silent on the issue.

In this type of arbitration, the decisions are taken by tribunals, not by courts, making outcomes difficult to predict or subsequently, to challenge.

One thing is clear, as Colombia grapples with the complex issues of land reform and the need to protect local communities and ecosystems, there is a good possibility that they will face more such claims.


By Julian Kircher

39 COMMENTS

  1. The most recent Cynaide spill that happened was from incidently another incompetent Candian gold mining company based in Argintina. The spill which took place in sept 2015 leaked over one million liters of a cyanide solution from Barrick Gold’s Veladero mine in Argentina’s western San Juan province finding its way into 5 rivers. https://www.rt.com/news/316455-barrick-gold-mining-spill-argentina/

    In 2011 the Colombian government clearly delineated the Paramo to include a 400 mtr buffer zone as advised by The Humboldt institute a respectable biological research centre. Common sense says that there should be a buffer zone around the paramo to protect it from the risk of spills that take place all to frequently.

    So back to to my question why do the proponents for Eco Oro keep harping on that just because their ecodes study has found that their proposed site for a mine is not in Paramo but butts up against it, that they should be alowwed to mine?. Its entirely irrelative. Their proposed site falls into the buffer zone and is a potential threat to both the water supply and the Paramo.

    & just as a side note heres another article published by the Guardian Jan 2016.

    “In Romania where a Canadian mining company is planning a controversial open-cast goldmine it has been declared a site of historical interest, granting it protection from mining activity.The step is a new blow for Canada’s Gabriel Resources which has been trying for 15 years to get an environment ministry permit to extract 300 tonnes of gold from the picturesque village in a project it claims would create hundreds of jobs and boost Romania’s economy. But experts say the project, which would use thousands of tonnes of cyanide, would pose a pollution risk, level four mountains in a historic area of western Transylvania”.
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/14/romanian-village-blocks-canadian-firm-mining-for-gold

    The Gold mining companys continue to play the Babes in the wood card claiming they will create jobs and boost the economy but bottom line is other than the environmental impact they will have, the social impact they have even before mining operations begin is massive causing untold stress and anger amongst the local populations.

    The Romanian government has deemed it an historical site and mining would cause harm to this site. The Colombian Government has deemed the 400mtr zone below the Paramo a buffer zone for obvious reasons. Accept it and jog on!

    • It is way past the point commenting on your posts, I am done with you. Before I go I want to point out where this is going. The Minister of Environment has commented on the paramo issue in that the Court will be rendering a decision on altering the paramo, more precisely the so called buffer zone. The interview with him follows. Your nonsense is now irrelevant but no doubt you will retort with more nonsense. Do you want me to send you pictures of the mine when it is operational?

      ENVIRONMENT , 5 JAN 2017 – 9:19 A.M.
      Interview with the Minister of Environment
      “It’s time to reform the environmental sector”
      Since the creation of the National Environmental System, there have been 19 attempts to reform it. All have failed. Luis Gilberto Murillo says it is one of the great tasks of this year.
      By: Pablo Correa

      The Chocoano Luis Gilberto Murillo was named April 25, 2016 as the new Minister of Environment by President Juan Manuel Santos. / scar Prez

      Luis Gilberto Murillo is the sixth Environment Minister since Juan Manuel Santos came to the Presidency. In this interview he promises to embark on a company in which many of his predecessors failed to reform the National Environmental System to respond to the challenges of a post-conflict country, comply with climate change agreements and other international treaties, minimize environmental threats and Respond to the need to curb deforestation, among other challenges.

      Question: What has been the most difficult to be Minister of Environment?

      Answer: The number of critical issues. We were behind in making decisions because any decision that is made generates positive and negative impacts and reactions. I think that led to the postponement of many decisions.

      Question: There are as many environmental issues as you have already noted, that I will tell you the subject and you say what is the immediate decision to take. Mining in the paramo of Santurbn?

      Answer: We expect a ruling from the Constitutional Court on delimitation. We hope it gives the possibility to move the line a little according to social, economic and environmental realities. And establish the transition regime for the communities that inhabit the moors….

  2. Some of the investors have been responding to this thread by labeling anyone in opposition to the eco oro project as a ‘radical environmentalist’. I understand that the easiest way for one to deal with anyone that opposes this current gold mine project is to put them all into the same category and label them ‘a radical environmentalist’. This creates the idea that the opposition is in some way radical beyond ‘reason’ in their views, leaving their ego self to feel justified and dare I say it even somewhat normal.

    However to only ask for the safeguarding of clean drinking water which comes from the watershed that this blundering project intends to mine would not make half of the population of Bucamaranga ‘radical environmentalists’.

    The safeguarding of clean drinking water is currently in place and the no go zone for mining at a certain alitude has been set by the Colombian minister for the Environment and the Colombian Constitutional Court. Both of which have been advised by national and international scientific bodies of the implications of mining beyond the areas that have been delimited. I would argue as well that none of these are ‘radical environmentalists’.

    Now if I may suggest that the real issue at hand are really radical investors, that through financial muscle are holding a smoking gun to the head of the colombian government to change their policy to suit their own means. A policy by the way that is not denying mining within the country itsel but rather calls upon responsible practice.

    The radical investor mindset is what is really at hand and needs to be addressed.

  3. Radical Socialist Environmentalists, like MP, in Colombia refuse to see the benefit of having professional Mining Companies with good social responsiblity and best environmental practices. These Radical Socialist Environmentalists prefer supporting illegal miners such as the ELN and Farc who greatly pollute the environment, kill, steal and pay no taxes for the benefit of Colombian communities. You have to wonder why these Radical Socialists don’t want Eco Oro but prefer letting the ELN and Farc continue polluting, extorting, killing, stealing etc. . Eco Oro will reduce the environmental impact with its modern mining operations. These practices include measures such as reducing water and energy consumption, minimizing land disturbance and waste production, preventing soil, water, and air pollution at mine sites, and conducting successful mine closure and reclamation activities.
    Here is the study by ECODES which is a much more detailed and profound study of the Paramo in Santurban:

    ECODES is not associated with any political party. Their aim is to bring about social change by moving society in a more socially just and ecologically sustainable direction. They aim to work with all stakeholders involved, regardless of political attitude.
    Ecodes Ingenieria Ltda. (“Ecodes”) show that paramo does not exist in the area of the Angostura deposit. The purpose of the report, which covers an area of 600 hectares surrounding the Angostura deposit, was to have a thorough understanding of the state of ecosystem conservation in the Company’s area of influence.

    Ecodes, a well-renowned Colombian company specializing in the formulation and execution of environmental projects, was commissioned by Eco Oro in early 2012 to carry out this study. The Ecodes team of professionals was comprised of highly qualified specialists recognized nationally and internationally in the areas of biology, ecology of ecosystems, ecological restoration, hydrology, climatology, GES informatics, edaphology, ecological modeling, and social and economic sciences.

    The study was conducted to a degree of detail not previously undertaken in Colombia. Approximately 60 multidisciplinary professionals made several visits to the Angostura property and used cutting edge models and technology to obtain a detailed appreciation for the conservation status of the biodiversity of ecosystems in the area under examination. Rigorous analysis was undertaken of soils, fauna and flora, hydrological systems, and socio-economic realities and perceptions relating to the local communities of Soto Norte. By law the National Development Plan prescribes that studies with a view to delineate paramos should be undertaken on a scale of 1:25,000. The Ecodes study reflects a more detailed scale of 1:2,000. The study also contemplated alterations to vegetation in the area over the last five decades.

    • How can you reduce an environmental impact when there is no current impact to reduce? The only environmental impact to reduce will be that of the impact Eco Oro will have on this environmentally sensitive area.

      & as for Ecodes you mean the a non regulated corporate company that has no affintity with any government or environmental foundation and whose client list includes in addition to Eco oro many of the big energy companies to include ECO Petrol (grinning from ear to ear at the name because its so damned funny)

      & then of course we have the name ECO Oro because the’re so eco friendly. One report stated they were set to use upto 250,000 litres of water per hour with the likely consequence of reducing the groundwater supply and diminishing aquifers in the area and in addition the massive amount of sodium cyanide that would be used at a concentration of 500 milligrams per liter of water for the gold ore separation process is potentially a disaster waiting to happen, if mining were to be granted within the buffer zone.

      How can a mining company dictate to a government where to define its ecological zone based on a report by a paid through the nose unethical study carried out by a non regulated corporate company under the guise of another Eco banner?

      The governments decision on how to define its ecological zone is not political as some are suggesting but responsible. The buffer Zone is set to stay in place and investors should start looking else where for something to destroy.

        • Could someone please do a translation of what MP is trying to say. He makes little sense and has obviously run out of arguments, or the one he continually flaunts. He has a closed mind and is not open to other peoples point of view. It is clear that Eco Oro is not within the paramo so what is his problem? The government will indeed adjust the paramo delineation.

          I assume MP will retort with his usual one dimensional argument. You will just have to live with it MP when Eco Oro has government approval to mine that will bring the revenues, employment and protection of resources that we all want for Colombia.

  4. The environment ministry in 2011 commissioned the Alexander von Humboldt Institute, a Bogotá-based biological research foundation partly financed by the government, to come up with a more comprehensive definition of páramos.

    The Humboldt study’s recommendation was that the new páramo definition should include a 400-meter (1,300-foot) “belt” or buffer that in effect would create a buffer zone below the Paramo preventing any overlap with mining activity and its possibility for pollution due to the massive amount of cyanide used for extracting Gold.

    “We are an institute that investigates biodiversity, and so our recommendations went for maximum protection of the páramos,” said a leader of the two-year study. “That’s why we proposed a ‘transition belt’ below the páramo” this buffer zone is considered a safe guarding as the study shows that mining in this area was highly likely to lead to impact on the Paramo.

    Scientists fear that chemicals and tailings from the mine could pollute the Angostura River and underground aquifers, and that the impacts of mining in its proposed area would inevitably spill over into the Santurbán protected area.

    What I dont understand is that with this study in place that was comissioned by the government why Eco Oro still claims that they will not be mining in Paramo even comissioning a study by ecodes to prove that. It is evident that they will not be mining in Paramo nobody is contesting that but what the government and valid scientific studies are suggesting is that a buffer zone around the paramo was needed to protect it hence the current delineation of the paramo limits.

    But unfortunately the environmetal policy put in place by the government to protect its land and its people does not suit the money men of a foreign mining company who have no regard for their environmental and social impact.

    • Finally, you get the point MP, Eco Oro IS NOT in paramo. No other Andean country has established this buffer zone. Why did they not make it 1000 meters? It was a land grab simple as that as were these so called “parcs”. Humboldt is simply an arm of government. The delineation at the elevation established was a political decision. It displaced small communities, farmers and miners. Vetas town is within that area including a small authorized mine that has been in operation for 400 years. Are they to be displaced? The government is under serious legal challenges from it’s own people. This is a battle the government cannot win. Shortly, they will back off this buffer area.

      Eco Oro rights will be re shortly. The company constructed a major water filtration system to preserve the clarity of any water used in the mining process. That is what eco friendly, safe mining is all about. This case will never go to arbitration, the government will relent, there is no way they can win this at arbitration. As you pointed out Eco Oro is not in paramo.

      Case closed. This will not satisfy environmentalists and activists that prefer the entire planet to be one eco zone, but common sense will prevail.

  5. MP , you should brighten up your life a little ! Here’s a good book that might help you achieve this. This book dates from 1993 but is still very current topic. Enjoy ! !

    Radical Environmentalism: Philosophy and Tactics (by Peter C. List)

    This comprehensive book presents readings in some radical ecophilosophies under discussion today and representative examples of the ecotactics that radical groups think these beliefs require. The readings, by many of today’s radical ecophilosophers and radical environmental activists, are balanced between “radical” selections and criticism of radical tactics.

    • I understand that the easiest way for you to deal with anyone that opposes this current gold mine project is to put them all into the same category and label them ‘a radical environmentalist’. This creates the idea that the opposition is in some way radical beyond ‘reason’ in their views, leaving your ego self to feel justified and dare I say it even somewhat normal.

      However to only ask for the safeguarding of clean drinking water which comes from the watershed that this blundering project intends to mine would not make half of the population of Bucamaranga ‘radical environmentalists’.

      The safeguarding of clean drinking water is currently in place and the no go zone for mining at a certain alitude has been set by the Colombian minister for the Environment and the Colombian Constitutional Court. Both of which have been advised by national and international scientific bodies of the implications of mining beyond the areas that have been delimited. I would argue as well that none of these are ‘radical environmentalists’.

      Now if I may suggest that the real issue at hand are really radical investors, that through financial muscle are holding a smoking gun to the head of the colombian government to change their policy to suit their own means. A policy by the way that is not denying mining within the country itsel but rather calls upon responsible practice.

      The radical investor mindset is what is really at hand and needs to be addressed.

      • You just have not been listening or choose not to! No one is disputing that water resources need protection in law, but more importantly in administration. There is this preoccupation with professional and safe mining while 80% of the gold is illegally mined in the paramo.

        But back to Eco Oro. There is the paramo consistent in much of South America at consistent elevation. Colombia set the elevation considerably lower to include a buffer zone. No other country has done that and there is no good reason for other than a land grab which has become obvious with water running red with mercury.

        EOM had an independent study done by Ecodes, a respected and professional organization. After an extensive review, they concluded that Angostura is not within the paramo. You could say but close enough, but Minesa, the current darling if environmentalists and government is immediately below EOM and buts right up against it. The Constitutional Court has now called for review of the paramo delineation in certain areas. It is recognized that the government delineation of the paramo is faulty and includes legitimate mines and crops of, I believe 70,000 farmers, growing potatoes and onions. This needs to be corrected and will be. The discussion over EOM will be a moot point as their rights will be restored.

        Bottom line MP, I do not disagree with your position. There was a mistake made by government in the delineation of the paramo. EOM property is not within paramo, that is now obvious and this anomaly will be soon corrected. I do not know if you actually read the Ecodes study, but it is worth the effort. It contains a degree of scope well beyond the government standard for such studies. I hope you, the other contributors and the staff moderating our posts had a great Christmas and New Years.

        • Look Luis it doesn’t matter how you try to dress this up you can’t put lipstick on a pig. At what point does it become ok for a corporate company to dictate the environmental policy of a nation to satisfy their own insatiable greed.

          No mistake has been made by the government and the delineation of the paramo is not faulty. The only reason it would be under review is because their hand is being forced through an agreement that does not allow for forward thinking.

          Bottom line is The Colombian government are perfectly within their right to delineate the paramo as to how they see fit and not to an in house science study of a foreign investor.

  6. Money makes the world go ’round. So what will imminently happen since no Paramo exists at the Angostura Gold Project, is the mine will be built to create jobs and prosperity for all the inhabitants of Santurban Region and all of Colombia.
    Money should not just be available to big fat socialist pigs that bring nothing to a country’s prosperity.

    • Who brought this strawman to the conversation? The prosperity you speak of for all the inhabitants of the Santurban region is an illusion i’m afraid and has been statistically proven. How can using local slave labour that are paid peanuts a week to work in a dirty hole in the ground for long hours AND at the same time polluting the environmentally sensitive ecosystem that provides drinking water for the surrounding inhabitants bring something to a countries prosperity?

      True investment is to invest in a nation by giving them a helping hand up the economic ladder and empowering the community to manage their own resources, not to leech of the ‘open veins of latin america’ (good book by the way) as has been done for centuries past to the detriment and oppression of the local populations.

      The type of investment you talk of only serves to keep the local population in a role of victimhood stripping them of their power whilst using the money men of wall street (namely tenor capital management a hedgefund that funds ISDS claims on the statistic that the odd win will far outweigh the losses) to fight your dirty battles.

      Like I said these are backward times we are living in with unfortunately backward people at the helm.

  7. Great news to hear the report that the World Bank has divested from the Eco Oro Minerals and mining project in the Colombian Páramo. It reads “In an important step for the protection of Colombia’s páramos, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private lending arm of the World Bank – has decided to divest from Canadian mining company Eco Oro Minerals”.

    Now that the IFC (one of 5 organizations that belong to the world bank group and whos president presides over all 5 oragnizations to include the international Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)) has pulled its funding its likely that the dispute taken up by Eco Oro with the ICSID will amount to nothing. Well done Colombia for putting the environment and your citizens first!

    http://www.aida-americas.org/release/world-bank-divests-from-eco-oro-minerals-and-mining-project-in-colombian-paramo

    • Wishful thinking MP. The IFC withdrew as it put them in a conflict of interest with the World Bank when this goes to arbitration. The original investment by the IFC was well intentioned to promote revenue, safe mining and jobs in Colombia.

      Good in theory but the best intentions were negated by government ineptitude and the courting of environmental votes resulting in EOM falling out of favour with the government after over a decade of being a great corporate citizen and winning several national and international awards. The false paramo is quickly unravelling. News today the paramo limits are being reviewed by the Constitutional Court. Anyone that cares to read the Ecodes Study commissioned by EOM learns that it specifically states that EOM claims are not in Paramo. The study was conducted by renowned experts. But, environmentalists do not want hear that. Sorry, but it is fact.

      The paramo limit will be raised in Angostura to a realistic elevation and EOM will not need the arbitration. Everyone will be happy but the environmentalists, but that is life.

      • Now Luis have you got proof that the paramo limits are being reviewed today by the constitutional court or is that a little white lie you’re telling for obvious reasons. As for the IFC conflict of interest, it arises out of funding a project that could put the water supply for thousands of people in jeopardy.

        In August 2016, the IFC’s compliance office found the project hadn’t met the IFC’s own performance standards acknowledging this when they answered the complaint made by the representatives of the Comité por la Defensa del Agua y el Paramo de Santurbán agreeing that “a mine development at angostura would have environmental and social impacts that would need to be carefully assessed given the proximity of the paramo at santerban”.

        This will goto arbitration and it will be thrown out similar to how 90 percent of other such suits that are filed with the international Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) are thrown out.

        Then it will be sell, sell, sell.

        • Read it and weep MP.

          Constitutional Court news
          machine translation follows, source:http://www.rcnradio.com/medioambiente/fallo-sobre-santurban-pondria-en-jaque-la-delimitacion-de-los-paramos/
          ——–
          Constitutional Court ruling on Santurbn would “check” the demarcation of moors
          ENVIRONMENT
          December 29, 2016 – 11:45 A.M

          RCN Radio learned that, is about to leave one ruling of the Constitutional Courtregarding a guardianship filed by a group of lawyers who claims that the Ministry of Environment violated the right of the community to participate and to due process the delimitation of the wilderness of Santurbn.

          “There is a protection that is studying the Constitutional Court magistrate Alberto Rojas paper where claims for resolutions delimitation of wastelandSanturbn fall , ” said Gilberto Murillo, Minister of the Environment.

          In that sense, Murillo asks the Constitutional Court “to maintain the resolutions of delimitation of Santurbn”, giving the possibility to the ministry of environment so that, based on analysis with technical rigor, “it can move the line of delimitation of the pramos according To the economic and environmental realities “.

          When you move from paper to ground, “there may be aberrant cases and the environmental authority must have the ability to adjust, rectify and leave the precise limit based on those realities. That, it does not happen today, “he said.

          Environment Minister warned that “it would do much harm to our goal of delimitation of all the moors if the Court Constitutional tomb that resolution”.

          The paramo of Santurban was the first complex to be delimited in 2014 with 98,950 hectares. The Collective Bar Association of Luis Carlos Prez-CCALCP and members of the Committee for the Defense of Water and the Paramo of Santurbn interposed the protection for irregularities in the process.

          The task of defining the moors in Colombia has taken a little over two years. They have been identified 20 of the 36 complexes that exist in the country.

          While the moors Colombians are unique ecosystems in the world, represented 2.5% of the country that provides water to more than 70% of the country’s population, it has also been historically the presence of peasants living on potato crops , Cubes, onion in addition to livestock and mining (illegal).

          They are between 300 and 400 thousand people living in the moors . The figure is not yet clear because there is no census to determine how many there are and what they do exactly, but it is believed that 70% of potato production in Colombia is in areas of moorland or close to it, according to the ministry Environment.

          • This claim is only based on the ministry of environment violating the right of participation when they clearly have a very legitimte reason for delimiting the Paramo as they have done. As a consequence the environment minister is warning the constitutional court that it woud do much harm to their goal of delimitation of All paramo if they were to revise the limits set.

            and the day I weep it will not be for myself but for the day another great loss to our society takes place when the likes of an incompetent junior mining project starts pouring chemicals into the ecosystem that stands to affect thousands of people.

            In the name of what certainly not as you’ve indicated to bring revenue and employment to an area. Its an insult to think that youre best intentions are to use local labour to work down a hole in the ground for long hours under dire conditions for a pittance a day and then actually believe you’re bringing something to the community When all the real rewards are going back to the fat investors and out of the country.

            Well I guess these are still the backward times we are living in.

        • & ‘as for every one being happy but the environmentalists’ this isnt about the environmentalists but about the watershed & the thousands upon thousands of people who stand to be affected.

          • Money makes the world go ’round. So what will imminently happen since no Paramo exists at the Angostura Gold Project, is the mine will be built to create jobs and prosperity for all the inhabitants of Santurban Region and all of Colombia.
            Money should not just be available to big fat socialist pigs that bring nothing to a country’s prosperity and health.

        • The Colombians have two choices: 1. The fake Paramo is ultimately moved to higher elevations in Santurban. 2. The Colombians pay +$250 Million that Eco Oro has invested in Santurban in the last 20 years.
          (since there is no Paramo at the elevation Eco Oro plans to mine the Angostura Gold Project, I’ll bet on #1 being the final outcome of this corrupt saga!)

          • Actually they have three choices, the third being deny the licence for the angostrua project to go ahead, goto arbitration & have it thrown out by the icsid and then every one will be happy but the investors but that is life.

  8. Marcel Patrick could you please, then, tell me why the Colombian Government and radical environmentalists should have the ultimate right to decide that after more than 18 years of exploration in Santander, Eco Oro should just forget about their over $250 million investment and leave Colombia. Where was the supposedly untouchable Paramo then, when millions of $$$ were being invested in Norte Santander by Eco Oro? Is this how you want Governments and their people to act after having invited foreign investors into their country? Invest now and we’ll screw you later? Before Eco Oro started exploration in the Department of Santander is when the Government of Colombia should of said no to exploration in Norte Santander(even if it is proven there is no paramo on Eco Oro’s Angostura project). Not after you let investors spend $250 million ! Governments must be held fully accountable for their irresponsible actions if we expect better societies for all, going forward. So pay-up Colombia!

    • Larose I would hardley call the European union radical environmentaists and I will respond to you as I have to Vince in case you havent read it. The humboldt institute as well as other paramo conservation projects have been fiananced by various Eu Nations to the tune of 5 million euros (5,000,000 Euros) and who in cordination with the IGAC otherwise known as the National geographic institute, IDEAM otherwise known as the National institute for meteorology and other various renowned academic institutes and international scientists have delimited the Paramo based on their investigation. It seems to me that this is a case of knickers in a twist syndrome for the mining companies and obvious investors like yourself

      You see In Colombia, Article 8 of its Constitution indicates that “it is the obligation of the State and the people to protect cultural and natural capital of the nation….and…. to protect the diversity and integrity of the environment and conserve areas of special ecological importance”. Environmental management is regulated by law 99 (1993) that created the Ministry of Environment and the National Environmental System (Sistema Nacional Ambiental; SINA). This is a semi-decentralized management system, in which the Ministry defines and approves legislation and norms and subnational environmental authorities (Corporaciones Autonomas Regionales, CAR) implement them in their territories in cooperation with local authorities”

      So I Think COLOMBIA as a nation are perfectly WITHIN THEIR RIGHT TO DECIDE how the Paramo is delimited and to hold up Article 8 of its constitution to protect the diversity and integrity of the enironment and conserve areas of special ecological importance.

      If Eco Oro had an ounce of Integrity they would find a way to uphold the constitution and continue in a way that is respectable to both the Colombian people and its environment.

      To appreciate the various projects that are in place and involved in the best foot forward policy of conservation of these fragile ecosytems from both the impacts of large scale industry and climate change and in understanding the value of these various ecosystems, their biodiversity and their importance feel free to read this EU outline – action document for paramo biodiversity and water resources in the northern Andes, CRIS number: DCI-ENV/2014/037-343, with a total estimated cost of: EUR 6 250 000
      • Total amount of EU budget contribution: EUR 5 000 000
      • This action is co-financed in joint co-financing by:
      • – Alexander von Humboldt Institute, for an amount of EUR 250 000
      • – Colombian Local environmental public corporations (CARs)/
      Ministry of Environment of Colombia for an amount of EUR 800 000
      Other organizations (IUCN, WWF Colombia) for an amount of EUR
      200 000.

      http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/comitologie/ros/2014/D035635-02/COM-AC_DR(2014)D035635-02(ANN16)_EN.pdf

      • & as for your comment that “governments must be held fully accountable for their irresponsible actions if we expect better societies for all, going forward” is utter nonsense within the context. How is upholding the constitution as ruled by the constitutional court for the betterment of society, the health of its citizens, and the protection of the environment an irresponsible action. For the love of god I do wonder sometimes at the sheer idiocity of people.

        The free trade agreement is an archaic agreement that at some point in the near future is set to become undone as it cannot sustain itself. It dos not allow for change in more economically challenged countries, that often signs the agreement in the first place with a smoking gun to its head.

        How can an agreement (such as the free trade agreement) that does not allow for change for the betterment of society, & the protection of its delicate ecosystems be legally upheld? My answer is it cannot.

        Eco Oro is an old world capital venture and as we move into the future it is green capitalism’ initiatives that will find their place.

        • The Paramo should have been in place before and not after letting investors pour in + $250 million in exploration.
          Don’t have to be very smart to understand that the Colombian Government must be held accountable for allowing Eco Oro to explore for gold in the first place. Anybody with sensible knowledge will acknowledge that you cannot just come up with a Paramo after 20 years of exploration by Eco Oro and tell them to pack up and leave their +$250 million invested in the country.
          Since disproportionate state measures have destroyed the value of Eco Oro’s investments in the Colombian mining sector, Colombia must pay and they will !

          • Its not that simple my friend. Anyone knows that permission to mine is not first granted and is then followed by investment and exploration. greystar resources (now eco oro) bought the lands set just above the paramo nr bucamaranga in 1994 and spent their investment in exploration up until 2010. It was already known at this time that the area they were intending to mine was a sensitive ecological area.

            None the less in 2009 the IFC the international finance corporation arm of the world bank invested funds to develop the Angostura mining project the IFC violated the provisions of its Policy on Social and Environmental Sustainability, as it invested in the project without having a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment or EIA first.

            The EIA is key in the decision of granting ‘planning permission’ who grants planning permission first without an environmental impact report?

            So on on December 22, 2009, the company submitted its Environmental Impact Assessment to the MAVDT Ministry of
            Environment, Housing and Land Development. The MAVDT returned the study with Decision No. 1241 of April 20, 2010, indicating that the company should prepare a new assessment considering that “the ecosystem called “Santurban Paramo‟ is an area that has been excluded from mining, since in accordance with domestic law mining in paramos is forbidden.” In consequence, since April 2010 the Colombian authorities
            have made it clear that the Angostura mine whose development is being sought in the Santurban Paramo is nonviable.

            In addition to this response & due to the negligence of the IFC (world bank group) in funding the project before the environmental assessment was made,In June 2012 The representatives of the Comité por la Defensa del Agua y el Paramo de Santurbán made a complaint to the CAO which is an independent accountability mechanism that receives complaints from those who may be affected by IFC investment projects. See the complaint in full outlined here
            http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/cases/document-links/documents/EcoOroComplaint_ENG.pdf

            The IFC’s response came august 5th 2016 “In summary the IFC agrees that a mine development at angostura would have environmental and social impacts that would need to be carefully assessed and managed particularly given the proximity of the paramo at santerban”

            So is it so surprising to hear that on 20 DEC 2016 the report that the “World Bank divests from Eco Oro Minerals and mining project in Colombian Páramo. In an important step for the protection of Colombia’s páramos, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private lending arm of the World Bank – has decided to divest from Canadian mining company Eco Oro Minerals”. Which tells me that all investors that have shares and expectations in this project should be concerned.

            http://www.aida-americas.org/release/world-bank-divests-from-eco-oro-minerals-and-mining-project-in-colombian-paramo

  9. Oh Vincent are you so naive to think that the humboldt institute as well as other paramo conservation projects who have been fiananced by various Eu Nations to the tune of 5 million euros (5,000,000 Euros) and who in cordination with the IGAC otherwise known as the National geographic institute, IDEAM otherwise known as the National institute for meteorology and other various renowned academic institutes and international scientists whom were in charge of the process of deciding how the Paramo should be delimited, made a mistake?. It seems to me that this is a case of knickers in a twist syndrome for the mining companies.

    You see In Colombia, Article 8 of its Constitution indicates that “it is the obligation of the State and the people to protect cultural and natural capital of the nation….and…. to protect the diversity and integrity of the environment and conserve areas of special ecological importance”. Environmental management is regulated by law 99 (1993) that created the Ministry of Environment and the National Environmental System (Sistema Nacional Ambiental; SINA). This is a semi-decentralized management system, in which the Ministry defines and approves legislation and norms and subnational environmental authorities (Corporaciones Autonomas Regionales, CAR) implement them in their territories in cooperation with local authorities”

    Hence Colombia as a nation are perfectly within their right to decide how the Paramo is delimited and to hold up Article 8 of its constitution to protect the diversity and integrity of the enironment and conserve areas of special ecological importance.

    If Eco Oro had an ounce of Integrity they would find a way to uphold the constitution and continue in a way that is respectable to both the Colombian people and its environment.

    To appreciate the various projects that are in place and involved in the best foot forward policy of conservation of these fragile ecosytems from both the impacts of large scale industry and climate change and in understanding the value of these various ecosystems, their biodiversity and their importance feel free to read this EU outline – action document for paramo biodiversity and water resources in the northern Andes, CRIS number: DCI-ENV/2014/037-343, with a total estimated cost of: EUR 6 250 000
    • Total amount of EU budget contribution: EUR 5 000 000
    • This action is co-financed in joint co-financing by:
    • – Alexander von Humboldt Institute, for an amount of EUR 250 000
    • – Colombian Local environmental public corporations (CARs)/
    Ministry of Environment of Colombia for an amount of EUR 800 000
    Other organizations (IUCN, WWF Colombia) for an amount of EUR
    200 000.

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/comitologie/ros/2014/D035635-02/COM-AC_DR(2014)D035635-02(ANN16)_EN.pdf

    • Marcel, did you even read the study that resolved that EOM is not in Paramo? It is only a matter of time before the government alters the elevation. They never even did their own study. The government cannot win this at arbitration and they know it. Santos now has the powers to implement measures to benefit mining to give much needed jobs to the FARC and ELN.

      • Pelc, an Associate Professor of Political Science at McGill University in Canada has stated that companies are winning fewer and fewer claims against countries in fact less than 10 percent are actually held accountable. One reason being that most claims similar to Eco Oros are seemingly frivioulous however corporations can sue democratic nations with out the need to satisfy any preconditions hence the abundance of false and accusaotry claims when things dont go their way.

        So all Eco Oro needs to do is get behind the other claiments that include Glencore, the world’s biggest and most heavily leveraged commodities trader; Carlos Slim-owned América Móvil, the leading wireless services provider in Latin America and the third largest in the world; the Spanish insurance company Sanitas; the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis; and the US miner Tobie Mining and Energy who incidentlly are sueing the colombian governement to the tune of 16 (laugh my pants off because its so damn funny) billion dollars or so.

        My question is have these companies any scruples, self respect or integrity? When ones greed is more important than whether they drain the coffers of a hard working nation with a per capita GDP of 7,831 dollars or not. My answer would be NO and once again I reitirate that its a sad day when American and Canadian Gold mining companies sue the Colombian government for protecting its national parks its environmental interests and the health of its citizens as set out in the Colombian Constitution Article 8.

        As a result Foreign mining companies now have their knickers in a twist heaven forbid for the government taking a stand and doing the right thing. What do you stand to lose Luis? you seem to be all over these online articles (spouting that eco Oro is mightier than thou) like a rash.

        Bottom Line is its not Important what Eco Oro come up with as an excuse the Colombian Government and associates have delimited the Paramo as they see fit based on as Ive mentioned above the Colombian Constitution, and quite evidently there is no case.

  10. As a founder of a mining company in the traditional mining area of the Frontino Gold Belt I am aware of both sides of the Environmental aspects of mining. I also went to high school in Bogota Colombia 71 to 72 and have explored a lot of the mountains and areas above Bogota and Usaquen.

    The issue here is all about the billion dollar investment. Paramo is subjective but any mining project above the tree line should be outlawed. The pictures you see there are with out a doubt above the tree line. Now are they representative of where the Greystar now Eco project is located? That is the real question.

    However to impose upon Colombia arbitration from a third party in this case is all about the money. It has nothing to do with the environment. Gold mining and strip mining are very destructive per say to the environment and no amount of money should be the trade off for clean drinking water.

    Segovia is polluted to the hilt with mercury and where there is gold mining mercury use will follow. Maybe not by the large companies but the locals will use it to work the tailing emitted by any processing plant constructed. Unless its a sealed system like Quintana’s plant in Santa Isabel there will be cyanide and heavy metals dumped into the surrounding water shed area. That will come down the mountain to the streams and eventually the food supply.

    So unless you want to be drinking contaminated water and eating mercury in your food source any mining above 8000 ft ( Bogota’s level above the sea) should be negated. If it meets the actual definition of a Paramo or not. There are enough gold deposits in other areas of Colombia that are not that high up and the government should trade off another area in the country that has large gold or potential gold deposits and ECO Gold should be cognizant that this is the only solution.

    • All good points Clovus, but they need to be rationalized with respect to EOM. First EOM is located at an elevation of 2800 meters to about 3300 meters and has been determined by a major study not to be in Paramo although the government refuses to acknowledge that fact or in fact complete any study before setting the Paramo elevations. The picture at the start of the article is not EOM it is barren. The link to the study can be found in the comments of another poster.

      EOM (Greystar) has been exploring in Colombia for 20 years with the full approval of the government…until recently, investing upwards of $300 million USD. Virtually all South American countries with Paramo have set elevations at 3400-3500 meters, Colombia significantly lower. EOM has built a water treatment facility on site to filter any water used. EOM has further offered to process for any artisan miners in the area to avoid the use of mercury. The control of illegal miners is not the responsiblity of EOM but the government in any event.

      The idea of restricting mining above 8000 feet (2400 meters) is not practicable, nor warranted. The arbitration will settle this issue, that is why free trade agreements are establshed along with dispute mechanisms. Professional mining would resolve the issues you mention, provide jobs and revenue to the government. All currently lacking. Of course there are risks but significantly less that the current illegal situation and can be managed with sound environmental safeguards.

      But, I suppose there are too many influential people benefitting from that illegal activity giving rise to activists under the guise of environmentals. I appreciate you do not have an intimate knowledge of the EOM situation and it is an emotional issue, but the clumsy approach by the government towards EOM has left them vulnerable to a significant arbitration award similar to the punishments that Venezuela recently suffered. There are rules governing international investment, it is truly unfortunate when governments do not abide by their obligations.

  11. I don’t have intimate knowledge of this particular issue, but I am extremely mistrustful of a process whereby a state may be sued by a foreign corporation before oftentimes questionable tribunals.

    To quote from the article: “In this type of arbitration, the decisions are taken by tribunals, not by courts, making outcomes difficult to predict or subsequently, to challenge.”

    These trade agreements seem to be influenced to a great extent by special interest groups and corporations, not necessarily national interests. Negotiators need to be wary of unintended consequences lurking in these agreements. There is the danger degrading their countries sovereignty when they conflict with public interest. For information on these tribunals see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Investor-state_dispute_settlement

    As a Canadian, I am conscious of the downsides of these treaties as we have too often been attacked under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. One of the results when considering environmental policies has been the spectre of Chapter 11 challenges. It embarrasses me when I view Canadian mining companies in Colombia behaving in a manner considered unacceptable in our own country.

    Certainly there should be protection against capricious and unjust actions affecting investments. It appears, too often, to be motivated by the wish to reap a windfall or an opportunity or to take an advantage as a foreign investor not available to a domestic corporation in a similar position.

    If there is unjustifiable harm done to an investor, then compensation would be in order, but for actual losses, not projected future earnings. When one invests in a country one should accept their sovereignty to act according to the country’s interests, it may not always be fair, but that is a risk that wise business should accept.

  12. Excellent points. In case you missed it I posted a link to an EOM press release announcing the result of a major study that determined that Angostura is not in Paramo. The government has ignored it at their peril without any scientific data to back up the coordinates they imposed. Arbitration is not in anyone’s interest but it appears that is where this is headed. The damage to Colombia as an investment friendly nation is already in trouble, this will only add to it. Anyway here is the link to the EOM study that proves it is not in Paramo.

    http://www.eco-oro.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=583546&_Type=News-Releases&_Title=Eco-Oro-Receives-Study-Indicating-Angostura-Deposit-Not-in-Paramo

  13. Once again the archive photo of the pristine watershed makes an appearance at the head of the article implying it resides at the EOM site. The picture mid article of Angostura graphically shows EOM land is not Paramo it is barren.

    The government knows there is no water absorbtion at Angostura yet they continue to ignore the science and common sense. Who knows their motives? Going back in time, the government was advised by their lawyers that they could not win an arbitration, It must now think they have a chance with the Constitutional Court ruling, however, that decision does not take precedence over the International Convention on free trade.

    Venezuela has lost every arbitration claim after nationalising mining and other operations and now has a significant bill to pay so they are offering to partner in gold mining with the winners of the arbitration. Santos is making the same mistake, risks losing and subjecting Colombian assets abroad to seizure. An example would be Avianca aircraft landing in the US and Canada.

    The so called Paramo coodinates were drawn up in a darked room by beaurocrats with no scientific studies to support them. The government is killing mining investment and employment, and the taxes it would receive at a time it needs them most. Where will the former Farc fighters find jobs, with the environmentalists?

  14. The misinformation regarding Eco Oro is significant, particularly from environmentalists or more rightlt “activists” supported by those favouring the continuation of illegal mining. Mercury continues to poison Colombians. First, the ill founded Paramo boundaries are not based on science and have been discredited by local communities. EOM several years ago commissioned an extensive analysis to determine if Angostura is in Paramo. It is not, although the Government refuses to accept this study by experts. Make no mistake, Colombia has no chance of winning at arbitration, it will go the same way as Maduro in Venezuela. It is simple a land grab by the government on several fronts. I have pasted the press release from EOM on the Paramo study which incorporates a Spanish executive summary. The public should be aware that EOM has been an exemplary corporate citizen in Colombia for 20 years. You cannot simply say ” thanks for finding all that gold, now get out!”!. The study follows:

    http://www.eco-oro.com/s/NewsReleases.asp?ReportID=583546&_Type=News-Releases&_Title=Eco-Oro-Receives-Study-Indicating-Angostura-Deposit-Not-in-Paramo

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