The fact that Colombia has indigenous and afro-descendant communities situated in the rural areas and that they are depending on small scale mining, made Colombia to be a country of strong mining tradition. The mining industry of Colombia not only goes from simple stone and gravel extraction, but also to the sophisticated extraction of coal, emerald, nickel and gold. The mining industry of Colombia has ranked as one of the most important producers of nickel in South America and of coal in Latin America because of the 211 minerals being extracted throughout their national territory, plus it is claimed to be the second largest producer of emeralds all over the globe. However, there is an undergoing rough period being experienced now in the mining industry of Colombia because of the many judicial and administrative decisions that led to an atmosphere of legal instability and uncertainty among foreign investment. Thus, foreign companies who are affected by these decisions would come to file lawsuits against the state.
Colombia produced about 90.511 million tons of coal in 2016 according to the National Mining Agency, and these products came from the places of Guajira, Cesar, Cundinamarca, Boyaca and Norte de Santander. There is then an established record figure in coal production for this country considering the amount represents 5.8 percent recovery as compared to last year.
The standards of mining in Colombia are different, from the development at various levels, and with the production and environmental management. An example is Colombia’s small scale mining, where although still in deficient where overall performance is concern, still it is the largest when it comes to production units, in employment generation and in some cases in terms of capacity where adding value of the minerals extracted is concern. Where medium scale production is concern, they have a higher knowledge regarding resources and reserves, in planning strategies, and in their compliance with labor and health and safety standards, they are still belong to a higher level. In the case of large scale projects, these are performed under the highest technical knowhow, economic, environmental and social conditions, all of which are important for the country’s economy, aside from a labor generating industry, and giving impact too on social and regional aspects.
Know also that Colombia has a regulatory framework for its mining that composes different regulations corresponding to the various categories, from constitutional to technical norms, and these regulate the operations of day to day mining activities.
Colombia’s mining regulations follow the principle that, whatever are the grandfathered rights, both subsoil and all mineral resources located within, are owned by the state, and thus can be exploited with an authorization beforehand through an issued mining title of authorities.