We need to call things by their real names, especially illegal activities.
I have never heard anyone refer to smuggling as a high-risk business activity. Nor have I heard someone call drug dealers exporters of hallucinogenic substances. Not once have I heard someone explain money laundering as alternative banking.
Each one of these illegal acts has a clear definition in the dictionary and in the penal code. So it follows that illegal mining shouldn’t be the exception as we speak about it in our day to day conversations. With or without intention, the term illegal mining confuses the vast majority of people into thinking that illegal mining is somehow related to mining. There is only one true type of MINING and it is the one done correctly, the one carried out according to all of the laws and the watchful eye of the Colombian government.
To conduct MINING activities in our country, you need an official license granted by the government and registered in the National Mining Registry. This is not granted by showing your ID or driver’s license, as some are led to believe. On the contrary, one must comply with a rigorous set of technical and economic requirements. In addition, one must possess sufficient aptitude and develop agreements with local communities.
MINING produces wealth. From the moment a contract is awarded up to the point of starting production, the owners must pay ground rent to the government creating jobs, both directly and indirectly. Once they begin production, they continue generating employment and begin to earn profits. These benefit the country as a whole, as well as the region in which the work is being carried out.
MINING is respectful to communities because mining projects are formally presented to them in advance. Possible problems are considered and measures are taken to avoid, minimize, or eventually fix them.
MINING is also respectful of the environment. Contrary to what most people think, nobody is going to sell the Santurban paramo or any other paramo. MINING is prohibited in paramos, national and regional parks, forest reserves, RAMSAR wetlands, and national security areas.
MINING does not use mercury. Let’s drop the argument that MINING is going to fill our rivers with this dangerous substance once and for all. MINING does not use backhoe loaders, as shown in my daughter’s social studies book. They explain several economic activities and MINING is falsely represented in this way. MINING does not put an end to the water supply. Let’s stop the false dilemma between MINING or gold.
Let’s be clear about who the real enemy is, whose illegal activity is responsible for filling the waters of the Atrato River with mercury. Let’s be clear that we have a common enemy that is destroying our economy, our communities, and the environment. The enemy is not MINING, as some people choose to portray it. The enemy has another name and we need to start to recognize it and fight it. The enemy is called ILLEGAL MEXPLOITATION OF MINERALS.
Author: Ángela María Salazar