Colombia’s shelving of environmental licence to delay AngloGold project

BOGOTA (The Southern African Times) – AngloGold Ashanti’s Quebradona copper project in Colombia will be delayed by the shelving of an environmental permissioning process, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Colombia’s environmental licensing authority announced the decision to shelve the request – rather than accept or reject it – on Monday.

The company needs to be officially notified of a decision so it can understand why it was taken, the spokesperson said, before it can prepare a new request. The project did not yet have a start day, but will be delayed, they added.

The decision was based on technical considerations including the definition of the project’s area of influence, hydrological, geo-technical and hydro-geological issues, and considerations related to the disposal of mining residue, the ANLA said, without providing further details.

“Archiving is a decision which means the authority thinks it is not possible to make an in-depth declaration about the request for licensing and allows space to once again present a request,” AngloGold said in a statement on Tuesday.

The environmental licence is the final permission the project needs before going ahead, it added.

The exploration in Jerico, in Antioquia province, has already faced local opposition similar to efforts that forced the company to abandon a $2-billion gold project in the country in 2017.

Exploration work at Quebradona was briefly halted in 2019 before a provincial environmental authority said it could continue.

The shelving of AngloGold’s request sends a bad message to foreign investors, the Colombian Mining Association said in a statement late on Monday, and will prevent the investment of some 5.2-trillion pesos ($1.4-billion) and the creation of at least 3 000 jobs during the construction phase.

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