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Colombia plans to promote coltan mining as President Juan Manuel Santos strives to diversify the Andean country's commodities exports, local newspaper Portafolio reported.
The difficulty in developing coltan is that the deposits are far from ports and railway lines, in addition to the fact that many are radioactive and lie inside national parks, according to the energy and mines ministry's planning unit UPME. Coltan is found in Vichada, Guainía and Vaupés departments, with reserves topping 1Bt, according to Colombia's geological service (SGC), said the report.
"The government is working intensely to promote Colombia as a mining country, specifically regarding 11 strategic minerals, one of which is coltan," Portafolio cited an UPME document as stating.
Companies interested in developing coltan deposits include Colombian Strategical Minerals, Maple Minerals and Leyhat Colombia, according to SGC. The government needs to reserve strategic areas and put them up for bids, the report said, citing the agency.
Coltan is used in the electronics industry, as well as in airplane engines, power plant turbines and surgically implanted prostheses.
Colombia, Latin America's largest coal exporter, is home to gold, silver and copper mining projects including AngloGold Ashanti's Gramalote and La Colosa deposits, Eco Oro Minerals' Angostura and Continental Gold's Buritica. Vancouver-based Red Eagle Mining began production at its US$55mn San Ramón gold mine last month.
Colombia produced 85.5Mt coal last year, according to the national mining agency (ANM). It also produced 80.8Mlb nickel, 1.9Moz gold, 326,482oz silver, 27,669oz platinum, 901,736t iron ore and 1.55mn carats of emeralds.