Protecting the Santurban Páramo from Angostura Mining Project

The Santurbán páramo

The Santurbán páramo. Credit: Jorge Sánchez Latorre.

Colombia

In the Andean region, high-altitude forests and wetlands called páramos capture water from fog and supply it to lowlands. In Colombia, nearly two million people rely on the Santurbán páramo for their freshwater supply.

Healthy páramos also capture large amounts of carbon, mitigating climate change, and provide refuge for hundreds of threatened species, including the iconic spectacled bear.

The land in and around the Santurbán páramo contains gold and other minerals. A Canadian corporation, Eco Oro minerals, wants to build a gold mine that would leak large amounts of cyanide and arsenic into the water coming from the páramo.

AIDA’s advocacy helped to convince the Colombian government to:

  • Deny an environmental license for the Angostura mine
  • Protect 76 percent of the Santurbán páramo from industrial activities—a much larger percentage than originally proposed

AIDA also supported litigation that led Colombia’s highest court to reaffirm that mining in páramos is prohibited.

However, 24 percent of the Santurbán remains unprotected because it has not been officially designated a páramo, and Eco Oro still wants to build its mine. If it does, it will cause a great deal of harm to the environment and to the people of Colombia.

What We’re Doing

  • Advocating at the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank Group) to withdraw its investment in the Angostura mine and to assess the full social and environmental impacts of the projects it considers funding.
  • Monitoring Eco Oro’s development plans to be ready to protect water coming from the páramo.
  • Supporting the Committee for the Defense of Water and the Páramo of Santurbán and the Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective in legal measures to protect the rights of participation and access to information in relation to the delimitation of the páramo. 

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