(Translated by Emily Schmitz, a CSN volunteer translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, a CSN volunteer editor.)
To address the Mining Development “Angostura” Project in Santurbán, Santander, Colombia.
Andean parliamentary, signers of this declaration, united in the special XV period of Andean Parliamentary sessions held in La Paz, Bolivia during February 23, 24, and 25 2011.
With the implementation of the Andean Environmental Agenda of 2006-2010, the objective of which is to guide the actions of both the Environmental Ministry Council and Sustainable Development projects such as the Environmental Andean Committee, a commitment has been reiterated. It is an action which allows for the facilitation of the definition, harmonization, coordination and consensus building of the policies and community strategies of environmental management and sustainable development to member countries.
In the Sierra Santa Cruz Declaration of May 2007, environmental authorities and sustainable development of member countries of the Andean Community recognized that Andean ecosystems are incredibly vulnerable and are at great risk due to the effects of climate change, to unsustainable economic activities such as extraction and inadequate development policies.
In Sierra Santa Cruz, a commitment to the conservation of these ecosystems was reaffirmed, as the vast majority of these countries are home to such ecosystems; moors and Andean forest which serve important environmental services.
Keeping in mind the following:
We have been informed about the claims of Greystar Resources Ltd. to carry out an open-pit gold mining project in the Santurbán moor, located in Colombia’s Santander department.
The Santurbán moor (department of Santander, Colombia) is considered the principal supply source of pure water for more than 2 million people in the urban area, city of Bucaramanga, metropolitan area, and 21 more municipalities in the Santander department and Norte de Santander, a border town Venezuela.
In the third article of Law 1382 of 2010 of the Republic of Colombia, states that mining activity in ecosystems classified as moors is specifically prohibited.
The Alexander von Humboldt Investigative Institute of Biological Resources, relating specifically to the Santurbán moor, has defined elevation, according to biophysical levels, as 3,100 meters above sea level.
We explicitly ask that the Andean Committee of Environmental Authorities, created under decision 435 in 1998, make a statement against the imminent danger of the authorization of this large-scale gold mining project in northeastern Colombia, due to its utilization of the cyanide leaching technique which contaminates water sources, causes changes in population and landscape, promotes long-term deterioration an irreversibly influences ecosystems which supply multiple goods and services for project needs, including local water sources.
To the Colombian government and environmental authorities, we state that they guarantee the right to water, to a clean environment and the conservation and preservation of natural ecosystems, providing environmental goods and services and because of this, should consider prioritizing environmental preservation to the expected damages in decisive moments regarding the viability and convenience of the Angostura gold mining Project.
To the academic and scientific community of the Andean Region, we summon the actualization of close monitoring of open-pit mining in member countries of the impacts generated in high mountain ecosystems and specifically in moor regions.
To Human Rights organizations in the area, we recommend the support of the actions of the Attorney General of the Nation and of the Colombian Ombudsman aim to prevent the execution of the mining project by environmental and mining authorities, paying close attention to negative effects, widely documenting academic instances.
To Greystar Resources Ltd. and the Canadian government, having signed international Human Rights documents, Environmental Agreements and Protocols and, with important advances in legislation and environmental norms fundamental to the sovereignty of sustainable development, we solicit the cession of the proposal to actualize the Angostura mining Project in the Santurbán moor region of Santander, given potential risks to human life in these Andean regions.
To all departmental authorities, municipalities and environments, to economic and social guilds, to Colombian Civil Society and the region impacted by the mining project, we express our support in the actualization of steps which will defend the Human Right to water, conserve and preserve our natural resources, the right to live in a clean environment and manifest our disposition to accompany all actions that, as Andean Citizens, are undertaken to defend the territory and Santurbán moor area, as social, cultural and environmental patrimony of the Andes.
Finally, we summon all Andean Parliamentary to evaluate and closely follow the policies of the countries located in this region; those which are privileged to exploit natural resources such as gold, coal, petroleum, etc., which impair Sustainable Development to which the local population and the future of the region have a right to.
La Paz, Bolivia, February 24, 2011.
GLORIA INÉS FLÓREZ SCHNEIDER
HECTOR HELÍ ROJAS
LUISA DEL RIO
This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.
Cyanide utilized in mining was prohibited in 2002 in Germany and, in May 2010, has been prohibited by the European Parliament for usage in all other countries.