Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has signed the decree to create the national mining agency (ANM), a press office official from the mines and energy ministry (Minminas) confirmed to BNamericas.
"The president signed the decree and announced the creation of the ANM," the official said.
The government expects the new entity to be operating before year-end.
The agency will be responsible for promoting and granting exploration and mining concessions and will carry out supervision. These functions used to be the responsibility of national geology and mining bureau Ingeominas, which will now focus on geological studies.
DEPUTY MINISTRY, ENVIRONMENT OFFICE
The deputy mines ministry was also set up under the decree. This will include two specialized departments, one for corporate mining and another for small-scale and traditional mining, Santos said at the signing ceremony.
Furthermore, an office of environmental and community affairs was set up to ensure inter-institutional coordination with entities such as the environment and interior ministries.
"One of our priorities - which goes hand in hand with strengthening the sector - is to be very strict about compliance with the environmental standards that mining operations must adhere to," Santos said.
"All we ask is that mining sector investors from here and abroad - and on this matter we are and will continue to maintain a strict stance - all we ask is that they be socially and environmentally responsible, meaning that they respect the environment and local communities," Santos said.
Mining represents 2.6% of Colombia's GDP and the figure could double or even reach 7%, according to Colombia's mining chamber (CCM).