HomeNewsAnalysisVerdad Abierta on Gold Mining and Conflict
ANALYSIS

Verdad Abierta on Gold Mining and Conflict

COLOMBIA / 1 NOV 2010 BY INSIGHT CRIME EN

Colombian publications Verdad Abierta website and its partner Semana magazine have published an article looking at the ways unlicensed gold mining is feeding the armed conflict in Northern Antioquia, Colombia.

In the area known as Bajo Cauca, miners could be extracting up to 28 tons of gold each year, an industry worth billions of pesos thanks to record gold prices on the global market. InSight visited this area in July and found it to be very similar to the "Wild West" described by Verdad Abierta. Many of Colombia's neo-paramilitary groups - the Rastrojos, the Urabeños, the Paisas and the Oficina de Envigado - all have interests in the area and are looking to expand into mining. The 36th Front of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is also very active here, and charges tax on every bulldozer that enters their territory. Verdad Abierta estimates there are 2,000 bulldozers within a territory of 8,500 squared kilometers along Bajo Cauca's rivers. During InSigh Crime's visit, we counted 25 in a 10 kilometer radius alone, representing some pretty hefty profits for the 36th Front. Multiple sources confirmed to Insight that the average tax charged is between three and eight million pesos (between about $1,650 and $4,500) per machine.

Northern Antioquia has long been a key region Colombia's conflict. Not only did the National Liberation Army (ELN) first appear here, but so did Carlos Castaño's first paramilitary armies. There were dense fields of coca cultivations here (and still are, especially in the northern part of the Anorí province), but farmers were hit hard by a long campaign of aerial and manual eradication. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antioquia's coca cultivations dropped from 10,000 hectares to 4,500 between 2008 and 2009. Many coca farmers used to supplement their income by panning the rivers for gold during the summers, but now rely almost totally on mining to survive.

However it now looks like the Santos administration is prepared to take a more active role in "legitimizing" the mining industry. Security forces announced that in September, they have shut down 40 unlicensed mines operating in the Córdoba province, an action repeated by police in the more southerly Valle del Cauca province. There have also been recent reports that drug kingpin Daniel Barrera Barrera, alias El Loco, also collects income from mines across the country, and even jailed paramilitary leader Carlos Mario Jiménez, alias Macaco, is thought to control a mine in Bajo Cauca. These kinds of actions are probably only going to increase in the future, perhaps even in Bajo Cauca, and we will also probably see more gold mining concession sold to Colombian and multi-national companies.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 30 DEC 2010

Authorities have seized 6.4 tons of drugs in Colombia's Pacific port of Buenaventura, the largest seizure of 2010. Police stated…

COLOMBIA / 23 SEP 2013

Micro-extortion of everyone from teachers to bicycle taxi drivers is funding small criminal groups across Colombia, according to analysts…

COLOMBIA / 22 NOV 2018

The government of Colombia has rejected the appointment of a top ELN commander as a delegate in peace talks and…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.

THE ORGANIZATION

Series on Environmental Crime in the Amazon Generates Headlines

17 SEP 2021

InSight Crime and the Igarapé Institute have been delighted at the response to our joint investigation into environmental crimes in the Colombian Amazon. Coverage of our chapters dedicated to illegal mining…