Eco Oro - Threatening the Paramo
For people in the Santurban region in Colombia, the mountain paramo quenches their thirst. A paramo is a mountainous ecosystem which serves a a sponge - releasing fresh water throughout the year. Paramos are rare and unique, home to an incredible number of fragile flora and fauna. In Colombia, they provide 75% of the country's fresh water. The largest paramo in Colombia is Santurban. It supplies water to a population of 2.2 million people in over 22 cities and towns. In a country where many major cities do not have access to potable water, access to and protection of the paramo is vital for agricultural activities and daily survival. The Santurban paramo also sits on top of one of the largest gold and silver deposits in the world, estimated to contain 9 million ounces of minerals. In 1995, Greystar Resources, a Canadian extraction company, began exploring the Angostura mineral deposit in Santurban and proposed an open-pit mining project. Extraction of this scale would require thousands of tonnes of water and chemicals such as mercury and cyanide to be stored in pools in the Santurban ecosystem. The fight to protect and preserve the Santurban paramo from this mega mining project has been a long and arduous battle, yet to be won. This is the story of Colombians courageously defending their mountain.

Post Script

Since this video was made, Colombians have continued the fight to protect their land. Part of their fight is against Colombia’s mining laws and National Development Plan. Trade unionists and other activists accuse the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and now the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Development (DFAITD) of shaping the legislation to advance the interests of Canadian extraction companies operating in the country. Specifically Code 173 of the Plan allowed mining companies access to Colombia’s previously protected paramos. The constitutional court recently struck down Code 173, potentially voiding up to 350 mining permits. This is a huge win for the fragile ecosystems and the cities and towns that depend on that water. However, the struggle continues to stake out the limits of paramos. Experts state that all mountain ecosystems are intricately connected, and extractive projects in any part of the high-mountain moorlands would affect another part. Paramos are not self-contained and there is no logical way of assigning clear limits or of diving high-mountains in a safe way.  

Eco Oro Nidia y Gustavo 2

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See below for Zoe Pepper-Cunningham's report on Segovia and Gran Colombia Gold. For more information, and to access the research alluded to in the video, please download the documents below.

Complaint Presented to the Office of the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO)

Autor: Comité por la Defensa del Agua y el Paramo de Santurbán. With the Support of: Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA) (Inter-American Association for the Defense of the Environment), The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), MiningWatch Canada.

Nota de Prensa - Comunidades colombianos presentan queja

Hoy, grupos locales de Bucaramanga, Colombia presentaron una denuncia contra la inversión del Grupo del Banco Mundial en el proyecto de mina “Angostura”, de la empresa minera Eco Oro Mineral, ante la Oficina del Ombudsman y Asesor en materia de Observancia (CAO, por sus siglas en inglés), mecanismo de quejas independiente de la Corporación Financiera Internacional (CFI). La denuncia cita, entre las diez principales preocupaciones de la población, el fracaso de la CFI para evaluar los impactos, potencialmente graves e irreversibles, tanto sociales como ambientales del proyecto. Éste es una mina de oro de gran escala ubicada en un frágil humedal de alta montaña, llamado páramo de Santurbán, que proporciona agua a más de 2,2 millones de colombianos.

Press Release - Complaint filed against World Bank Group for Funding Eco Oro Minerals Gold Mine in Fragile Colombian Wetlands

Local groups in Bucaramanga, Colombia filed a complaint against the World Bank Group’s investment in Eco Oro Mineral’s Angostura mining project with the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the independent grievance mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The complaint cites, among ten main concerns, the IFC’s failure to evaluate the potentially severe and irreversible social and environmental impacts of the project, a large-scale gold mine located in a fragile, high-altitude wetland, called the Santurbán páramo, which provides water to over 2.2 million Colombians.

Greenwashing - GreyStar changed its name; Welcome Eco Oro

Author: Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie. After scandalous withdrawal of its initial proposal to develop an open-pit mine, Canadian Greystar Resources decided to ameliorate its standing by creating a pro-environmental image. The company changed its name to Eco Oro, it made statements that their new mining approach is environmentally conscious and it would engage in preservation and conservation of Páramo ecosystem.