MICLA

McGill Research Group Investigating
Canadian Mining in Latin America

Angostura, Colombia

Key Data

Company:Greystar Resources Ltd. now EcoOro Minerals Operational status:Suspended 2011 Materials extracted:silver, gold Type of mine:open pit Main issues:water, biodiversity, permitting

Description

Greystar (now EcoOro Minerals) began exploration in Santander, Colombia in 1995. A decade later the company reported indicated resources of 148,143,000 tonnes (1.22 g/t Au) and inferred resources of 123,324,000 tonnes (1.13 g/t Au)[1]. With an estimated total of nine million ounces of gold and silver, one of the largest deposits in Latin America, Greystar proposed an open-pit mine project for the region.

However, EcoOro’s concession lies within the paramo de Santurban, a unique ecosystem that absorbs rain and releases fresh water. This water is used to supply 22 cities and towns in the region, including Bucaramanga, the country’s fifth largest city, with a population of 1.2 million. The region’s ecological significance has earned it legal protection from mineral extraction. This provision was set forth in a 2010 amendment to article 34 of the country’s mining code,[2] yet EcoOro still hopes to carry out its project.

Protests against Greystar's Angostura Project

The cyanide that would be used in the heap-leach process would threaten this unique and vital ecosystem, especially in an area where it rains more often than not. The “unifying lens of water” sparked the creation of a broad coalition against the destruction of the paramo for the sake of gold, which includes students and professors, water utility workers, politicians, engineers, and NGOs. On February 24, 2011, 30,000 citizens of Bucaramaga took to the streets in hopes that the Ministry of Environment would deny the company’s application for a license. The demonstration won the support of several high-ranking public officials, including State Governor Horacio Serpa Uribe, who denounced the project for not meeting the standards that a project in Canada would require.

Before EcoOro’s license could be denied, the company revoked its application, which led to a 30% drop in their stocks. Despite the significant opposition to the project, EcoOro has since brought forth a redesigned proposal for the paramo, though this time for an underground mine.


[1] Reeves, J. (2006). Technical Report: California-Vetas Property, California – Vetas Mining District, Santander Province, Colombia (for Ventana Gold Corp). Washington.

[2] Fajardo, N. (2011). Water vs. Gold Mining: How a Colombian City United Against Gold Greed Toward Freedom.

 

Bibliography

[1] Reeves, J. (2006). Technical Report: California-Vetas Property, California – Vetas Mining District, Santander Province, Colombia (for Ventana Gold Corp). Washington.

[2] Fajardo, N. (2011). Water vs. Gold Mining: How a Colombian City United Against Gold Greed Toward Freedom.

 



Timeline of Key Events

2012
2011
2011