- The results that were submitted emerged within the framework of the Responsible Party Agreement signed on December 15, 2020 between planetGOLD Colombia and the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Sur de Bolívar [Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur de Bolívar].
- The results achieved to date were presented at the event, and the commitment to achieving a mercury-free Colombia was reinforced.
- The objective of the alliance consisted in strengthening joint work aimed at human health and protecting the environment in this area of the country.
A few of the results presented by Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur de Bolívar within the framework of the agreement between planetGOLD and the UNDP Colombia were: the strengthening of capabilities for real-time detection of mercury in soil and water resources; the achievement of comprehensive training for professionals at Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur de Bolívar; accompaniment in the environmental licensing processes and the generation of awareness among the mining communities.
As part of this Alliance, women and men officials from both organizations celebrated the progress achieved, and reinforced the agreement, which is aimed at helping Sur de Bolívar move forward, by means of specific actions, in the search for a mercury-free Colombia.
This platform enjoyed the participation of Liliana Alvarado, the national leader of the UNDP’s project - planetGOLD Colombia; Enrique Núñez Díaz, the Director of Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur de Bolívar; women and men officials from the same organization; Johana Barrera Jiménez, the legal representative of “Compañía mina Walter SAS”, which is also a beneficiary of the accompaniment provided in the Temporary Environmental License process, among others.
According to Liliana Alvarado, the national leader of the project planetGOLD Colombia:
“this strategy is fundamental to the implementation of the project. The results that we delivered here today, in the city of Magangué, are unlikely to end here; the strengthening of capabilities that took place at Corporación del Sur de Bolívar, will allow them to continue to replicate these activities in other areas where the project was unable to intervene because they lie beyond its area of influence. We are sure that the human capital that we left here, through these results, will adopt the responsibility of performing this task in the future; guaranteeing the sustainability of the project too”.
During the discussion stage, relevant environmental issues for the region were addressed, among which, capabilities for the early detection of mercury in soil; river sediments; water and organic matter in mining areas in Sur de Bolívar, came to the fore; achieved through the transfer of equipment donated by UNDP Colombia to this corporation.
The skills and knowledge management held by the professionals of this organization for the assessment, planning and performance of sustainable interventions, were identified in this space, as well as others that serve to perform environmental monitoring in Sur de Bolívar.
Within the framework of the strategy, these officials we able to certify their skills in clean production, gender equality and human rights through comprehensive training courses, including a diploma course in “sustainability in the small-mining and subsistence mining sectors in Colombia”, implemented by Universidad EAN.
In the opinion of Enrique Núñez Díaz - the Director of Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur de Bolívar - there are a number of areas that can be highlighted:
“In first place, we have a different vision now, our approach focuses more on the miners. This project has left great things with us; including lessons, and a lovely experience, through which - by way of the tools delivered by the project - we can even identify some of the areas that contain mercury, because we now have the capacity; because they instructed our professionals throughout this process and we can now detect whether mercury is present in an area or not”.
On the other hand, progress made in the formalization of mining, by way of the Temporary Environmental License, was presented, during which both organizations accompanied the process carried out by the communities, to achieve the necessary permits and certification for sustainable operations, without violating the ethnic and cultural heritage of each area.
The National Chief of the planetGOLD Colombia Project, Liliana Alvarado, expressed the following on the subject:
“The corporation has launched a very humane accompaniment strategy; it doesn’t just come here to work and review documents; it provides technical assistance to the miners and makes sure that they are successful in obtaining their environmental license. Above all else, it sends a message about the importance of caring for and protecting the environment as well as human health. We hope that this flagship role played by Corporación Regional del Sur de Bolívar remains and continues, in a bid to secure mercury-free regions.
This work has been fundamental to the corporation and to the objective of working together, as expressed by Enrique Núñez Díaz, who adds that:
“We have tried - where possible - to ensure that miners see us as an environmental authority and a friend and that they learn to develop this activity in an environmentally friendly way, without causing excessive harm to the environment, or themselves. The message I want to leave behind is that we should stop poisoning our bodies and the environment with mercury, let’s leave something behind for our future generations”.
In addition to the above, the corporation designed and built an educational guide collaboratively, and using the technical advice received via the project, to raise awareness among the population, especially among girls and boys of school age.
This has been a significant experience that contributes to the efforts of raising awareness on the risks of mercury and the importance of environmental conservation in the territories, where small-miners play a decisive role.
In the words of Johana Barrera Jiménez, the legal representative of the company “Compañía mina Walter SAS” and environmental coordinator of the project:
“We had failed to provide our staff with adequate training in the past. At present, our operational staff has been fully trained to execute each task linked to the extraction of clean gold. This has benefited the company significantly because it has further increased our production. The message I want to send out to the mining communities, is: yes, we can! We can be better, we can work, and we must make use of our knowledge in the best way possible. We can be better for a mercury-free Colombia!”
In sum, thanks to the strengthening of the corporation's capabilities, inter-institutional accompaniment and joint work with the mining communities, Sur de Bolívar is committed to caring for human health and protecting the environment, thus contributing to the lasting goal of achieving a Mercury-Free Colombia.
Some pictures of the event:
- One of the pieces of equipment donated to Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur del Bolívar was an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, which identifies the degree of mercury contamination in a quick and immediate manner.
- Ten (10) officials from Corporación Autónoma Regional del Sur del Bolívar received training on the use of the donated equipment and the protocol for environmental monitoring in mining areas, whilst twelve (12) professionals were trained in gender and sustainable development.
- The project in Colombia aims to strengthen the capacity to assess, plan, and implement sustainable, mercury-free interventions at 22 entities.