ILLEGAL MINING IN COLOMBIA
Colombia is one of the five countries with the highest biodiversity on Earth, home to about ten percent of the world’s species. It is the world leader in bird species richness, ranks second in diversity of plants and amphibians, and the third in variety of reptile species.
This beautiful country contains about six percent of the world’s forests, which cover 75 percent of the land area of Colombia. More than 40 percent of its territory is under some kind of environmental protection, including 11 percent in national parks and protected areas.
However, nowadays the nature is being killed for the men’s behavior and actions, in spite of knowing that the Planet Earth gives us all what we need to live, the mankind is leaving a catastrophic footprint wherever it passes by.
Actions such as illegal mining causes huge damages first to the country’s economy, due to evasion of taxes that should come from exploiting our natural resources, second to the citizen’s safety because from this criminal activity most illegal groups are financed, overpassing the income from drug trafficking, third the damage caused to the whole society having in mind that practicing this activity without following the legal requirements encourage felonies derived from corruption such as influence peddling, peculation, faking papers among others, having a bad influence in the culture of legality in our country.
The biggest damage that illegal mining can generate in our country is the irreparable detriment caused to the ecosystem, taking into account:
- Natural resource’s damage from land removing process will take more than two hundred years to be recovered.
- The contamination of rivers and other water resources is invaluable because it can’t be repaired due to contamination by throwing agents such as mercury, cyanide, lead, arsenic, nitric acid, boron and zinc, among others.
- A day of illegal gold mining requires the same amount of water per day that is needed in a town with six hundred-thousand inhabitants.
- It needs one thousand liters of water per second to extract a gram of gold.
- Approximately six tons of dirt are used to obtain one gram of gold.
- The production of one single gram of gold needs five grams of mercury, which affects the health of any living being.
In addition to this, there are two kinds of people in this illegal activity, those who find in this the idea to get out of poverty, and those who don’t have the chance to do another activity. In fact, all of them know that they are going against everything related with a legal activity and the care of our environment. In fact the environment is just being taken as a source to get money, that’s it; none of them is paying attention to the critical damage it is causing.
Anderson Gomez is a twenty three year old man, who earns US $630 dollars a month, it doesn’t matter if he has to carry more than 70 kilograms on his back, and due to this he has to walk bent over while he goes downstairs for approximately 400 meters, for him it’s all about the money, he doesn’t even have a family, or children to feed, he has this idea of building his fortune no matter what it takes.
On the other hand we have the ones who don’t have a different choice, there are several reasons why they work there, for example, some of them are against their will, some of them are taken away from their families, and others don’t have education to get a different job. This makes it difficult to change the reality of this people and therefore the illegal activity itself.
NATIONAL UNIT OF INTERVENTION AGAINST CRIMINAL MINING
National Police created a Unit to fight those who are dedicated to the theft, trafficking and illegal sales of mining products in Colombia. The force has intervened in around 3000 mines, of which over 1000 were closed and arrested 5500 people.
This unit has also been attacking the heavy machinery used in illegal mining
Citizens from Italy, Brazil and China have been arrested in Colombia this year as authorities attempt to stop money flows and environmental destruction arising from this illegal activity.
Foreigners are involved in illegal gold operations and organizing local communities to work at the mines
These people are also bringing technology and machinery that is not permitted and obviously damages the environment.
The National Police, through its Direction of Rural Police keeps working to determine export routes and verify evidence that suggests some legal mining companies with concessions in Colombia may be buying the illegal gold.