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COLOMBIA
Green mining?
9/1/2010
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Afro-Colombian communities exploit gold on their land while preserving the environment.

Several Afro-Colombian communities in the northwestern Chocó department are developing an environmentally-friendly gold mining project called Oro Verde, or “Green Gold.”

Colombia´s Afro-descendant population is one of the poorest sectors of the country, but villagers in the Tado and Condoto municipalities say they have found a way to exploit natural resources to earn a living without damaging the environment. Under a project that was founded in 1999, they do not use mercury or other toxic chemicals to extract the metal. They also cover the pits with soil once they have mined the gold and use no more than 10 percent per hectare to mine. In place of mercury, they use natural plant extracts to separate the gold from other sediments.

According to Clara Hidrón Botero, director of the Friends of Chocó Foundation, the program promotes mining “as an economic activity as well as a sustainable development option.”

The Pacific Environmental Research Institute, a government agency, gives miners certification for using clean artisans methods, including not using toxic chemicals such as mercury, cyanide and other contaminates that could impede the pits to recover. It also monitors flow of sediments in the rivers, lakes and tributaries and a social factor: that the surrounding communities approve.

The 194 families that live off the program receive 2 percent higher than market value for their gold, and the buyers pay a 13 percent premium to the miners, which is reinvested in the community.
—Latinamerica Press.


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