The Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Susana Muhammad González, told a national radio station that options are currently being evaluated to solve the illegal mining crisis in the Páramo de Santorban’s area of influence, under the jurisdiction of Santander.
The official explained that the decision-making process would be coordinated with residents of mining areas in Soto Norte province.
“One possibility is to consolidate the Community Mining District, which has a very controlled impact, to give way to this totally destructive and polluting mining that affects Bucaramanga’s water sources. The other option is not to mine at all (in this area) And a replacement activity has to be generated. The issue has its own complexities,” he said.
The Environment Minister confirmed that she would return to Santander in the first quarter of this year “to bring a proposal to the residents of the municipality of California”. We are looking at it very carefully from an environmental point of view and from a legal point of view and all other aspects.
Zone of influence of the Páramo de Santurban, where, in recent years, a complex environmental crisis has been registered as a result of the activity of some 400 people who illegally extract gold from 280 hectares that were believed to be the Canadian multinational Eco Oro exploration to do, which gave up its mining concession.
Most of this land is in the area of the Páramo de Santurban. The area, currently left to its fate by the state following the departure of Iko Oro from the area, lacks a permanent presence of officials. It is the “mafia” that decides who enters and who leaves the mines. These miners are part of a black market for the sale of mercury between Bucaramanga and Soto Norte provinces. According to reports received at the intake of the Bucaramanga Metropolitan Aqueduct, this activity generates high levels of contamination in water basins such as the Surta River, whose contamination levels exceed the limits allowed by sanitary regulations.
On 9 December, Minister Susana Muhammad González toured the municipality of California, specifically visiting various points in the area where tunnels operated by the multinational company, Eco Oro are located and abandoned, a fact that has led to illegal mining. and continues to severely affect the ecosystem.
In his intervention before California residents, the official was emphatic in outlining the priorities that would be in the decisions made by his portfolio. The key, he assured, would be the creation of land use regulations around the water, under a social agreement.
“The strategic question is how to organize the area around the water,” said the minister, who added that all social actors “who live in the marshes and in the marshes” should be involved in this construction.
With regard to its delimitation, Muhammad pointed out that the process, which has been ongoing for several years and in which only three of the 40 municipalities have reached agreements, should go beyond a ‘line’. In this regard, he said, “We have to look at it jointly and comprehensively.”