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Colombia to stop mining in high-altitude regions with water sources

Staff writer ▼ | February 12, 2016
Colombia’s government said it would comply with a Constitutional Court ruling that bans all mining activities in the Andean nation’s paramo, or alpine tundra, regions.
Colombia paramo
LatAm   Mining activities in paramo
"We receive this decision with the utmost respect and will obviously abide by it," Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Gabriel Vallejo said.

The high court ruled that Paragraph 1, Article 173 of the 2014-2018 National Development Plan, approved in 2014, was unconstitutional.

That paragraph had made an exception to a 2011 ban on mining in the paramo, stating that exploration and development of non-renewable resources and mining were permissible as long as the environmental licenses for those activities had been issued prior to Feb. 9, 2010, and June 16, 2011, respectively.

Paramos are intertropical alpine ecosystems where shrub land predominates and which are located more than 3,000 meters (9,835 feet) above sea level.

These high-altitude regions are the source of most of the water that Colombians consume.