Will Colombia ban open-pit coal mining?

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, February 08, 2023
Will Colombia ban open-pit coal mining?

Colombia’s 1.15tn-peso (US$247bn) national development plan (PND), set to be voted by congress in May, includes a ban on new open-pit coal mining concessions.

Key pillars of the plan are poverty reduction and the clean energy transition.

President Gustavo Petro promised to ban open-pit coal mining last year, and energy and mines minister Irene Vélez reiterated the plans recently in Davos.

According to the PND, the ban would not be retroactive. But holders of large-scale open-pit thermal coal mining contracts that ended would be required to move toward the definitive closure of operations, including reaching agreements with mining and environmental authorities to define closure conditions.

Coal producer association Fenalcarbón identified thermal coal is Colombia's second largest export, exceeding US$9.5bn in 2022. Exports go mainly to Turkey, India, China, Central America, Brazil and Mexico.

The industry is also grappling with a tax reform that was approved last year, which prevents miners from deducting royalties. An overall economic slowdown represents another problem.  

In an interview with BNamericas in November, Fenalcarbón president Carlos Cante said the main challenge is political, with public policy and the PND potentially impacting sector development.

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