South African mining giant Anglogold Ashanti has applied for an environmental permit for its Quebradona Project entailing a large-scale gold and copper mine in the southwest of Colombia’s Antioquia state. The region is part of the Tropical Andes, the most densely concentrated biodiversity hotspot on the planet; should this be the case, the project threatens to destroy Southwest Antioquia’s spirit, culture, water resources, and biodiversity.
Upon government approval, the project’s first phase would use sub-level caving - an underground mining technique resulting in the collapse of approx. 72 hectares of Chaquirito’s mountaintop - (located near the border between the towns of Jerico and Tamesis) - 400kms into the earth. In the process, it will lower the water table, significantly impacting several creeks, including some critical to rural aqueduct services, vegetation and animal life, and essential for local coffee growing (“campesino”) communities and agricultural industries providing hundreds of jobs in the area. Further, the collapse of the mountaintop, one of the highest in the area, will leave an unattractive crater-like hollow tearing apart and irreversibly altering our iconic landscape.
The geographical area impacted by the mine overlaps with certified Important Bird Areas (IBAs), coveted for birdwatching, including endangered and vulnerable species endemic to the Colombian Andes (i.e. yellow-eared parrot and turquoise dacnis, respectively), as well as for spotting other endangered species endemic to Colombia, such as the white-footed tamarin. It could also eventually impact the spectacled Andean bear. The mine is located in an area full of archeological sites and sacred mountaintops. The cumulative effects of Anglogold’s Quebradona Project will convert Colombia’s magical destination into a South African-like mining district, devastating our essence, heritage, natural capital and local economies.
AngloGold’s own plans include reshaping our breathtaking landscape - a source for admirable art, literature and poetry - with the construction of a 218-meter high artificial mountain of toxic waste sitting just 2km upstream the Cauca River, Colombia’s second most important river. This toxic mountain would be a perpetual source of risk and pollution, requiring maintenance and water treatment due to acid mine drainage; in the event of failure, there would be costs and risks for our territory and communities downstream, crossing Colombia’s major dam and, potentially, all the way north to the Caribbean. Our region receives heavy tropical rains and experiences significant seismic activity. This time, a bomb of toxic waste with thousands, if not millions, of potential victims, would be anything but responsible.
Moreover, southwest Antioquia would inevitably sustain the same human costs that have been borne by Antioquia’s northern mining regions: the arrival of illegal mining, violence, social tensions, and ultimately forced community displacement. It is no surprise that 85% of Colombia’s internal involuntary displacement overlaps with mining areas. We do not want our campesinos’ way of life to suffer this same fate.
Please help us preserve our land of natural biodiverse treasures, ancient wonders and rich culture. Please help us continue our path towards a regenerative green economy, protecting the health of a biodiversity hotspot that is the natural heritage of our community and of the entire world. Please help us STOP Anglogold Ashanti’s hostile take-over.
This is why today we join in saying: #LetsSaveTheSouthwest from AngloGold Ashanti. We ask the international community to assist us in having both the National Environmental Licensing Agency (ANLA) to definitively rejecting the environmental license for this megaproject and the National Colombian Government to committing to its communities, environment, and territory that will otherwise face this catastrophic exploitation.
Together we can do it! SIGN and SHARE this petition now to say #LetsSaveTheSouthwest #SalvemosAlSuroeste