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Cerro Matoso, Colombia


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Cerro Matoso is the only mine that extracts iron and nickel in Colombia in open sky and one of the largest in the world, located at the North-West of the country, in the department of Córdoba. All the ore is mainly exported to Europe, the United States, China and Japan. Cerro Matoso begins with the contract between the Nation (Colombia) and Cerro Matoso (BHP Billiton who is currently owned by Cerro Matoso, and has several concessions in the Colombian territory in his power to explore and exploit the nickel deposits in Montelibano, signed On March 30, 1963 and in July 1970, an additional contract was signed that fixed it 25 more years of validity. In October 1996, it was extended for five more years.

On October 12, 2001, the mining company requested the Government a contract amendment to avail the new code of Mines After four years of negotiations, on July 22, 2005, a new contract was signed that left the possibility of requesting a new extension for 30 more years.

More beyond the negotiation between BHP Billiton and the Colombian State, it can be seen that for 30 years the municipality of Montelibano (including its inhabitants) have been limited to receiving royalties and has been a cause for investigation by the Comptroller General of the Republic It ensures that the debt of the company with the Colombian State is USD 30 million for the exploitation of iron ore. In addition, the company has not paid taxes every year and reports profits below the real ones.

The municipality of Montelibano shows the largest number of housing with ceilings and plastic walls, it is a country area with more dumps and cords of misery, the poorest sectors are Villa Cleme, 50 and El Porvenir.

corruption Administrative and weak institutions were factors that prevented the development of the municipality, as well as the absence of pertinent public policies to face the impacts of mining farm. The resources transferred for a royalty of the municipality have been scarce.

Another factor that aggravates the situation is the historical violence and the permanence of all the armed actors that clearly increase The social and financial imbalance in Montelibano. The project has managed a low profile in media and also as an object of environmental or social NGO assessment. It is likely that the fact of being a project where the ferronickel haven are relatively high and that the decapote material (CANGA) also has use causes less residues. However, the problems over water and air have been argued by mine workers and farmers of the area that show the detriment of environmental conditions such as deforestation in the river, the fall of rocks in the channel and the disappearance of the Fishing by shortage and water pollution, as well as particulate material, noise, metallic fumes, silices, radiation, among others.

Key Words: Open-Cast Mine, Export, Corruption, Violence, Deforestation, River Pollution

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Cerro Matoso, Colombia
State or province:Cordova
Location of conflict:Montelibano and Others
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Nickel Ferronickel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Australian company BHP Billiton exploits this mineral since 1982. Extraction is open-pit, with a process of pyometalurgical transformation (which consists of the obtaining and refining of metals using heat, as is in the case of the foundion) of which it is They get granules from Ferroniquel. With the crushed rock, a mixture is made that is preheated to get the water, then passes to the electric ovens to be melted, the content of the Ferroniquel has an average of 30% nickel and 70% iron. The reddish mineral of iron is called Canga must be removed to reach the rock containing nickel. The product is mainly exported to Europe, the United States, China and Japan. Cerro Matoso is the first consumer of energy in the country. It consumes energy equivalent to the city of Barranquilla, with a power of more than 180,000 kilowatts. It produces more than 40,000 tons of nickel per year and some 55,000 ferroniquel (iron and nickel alloy). The exploitation has been extended to other municipalities.

Project area:52,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project3,000,000,000.
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:15,000.
Start of the conflict:2001
Company names or state enterprises:Cerro Matoso S.A. from Australia - local BHP Billiton subsidiary
BHP Billiton (BHP) from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Comptrolio General of the Republic, Ingeomins, Governorate of Cordoba, Municipal City of Montelibano, Senate of the Republic of Colombia, National Planning Department
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Although the project has serious social and environmental implications, the manifestations and denunciations have been few, and among these we can find some of institutional origin as the case of the general contractory of the Republic., Union of the company Ismocol (Engineering, Services, Assemblies and, construction of oil pipelines of Colombia S.A), Peasant Associations of Montelibano (Cordoba), Ilsa (Latin American Institute for a Society and a Right, Alternative), Empty Chair (Blog), Censat Viva Water
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Industrial workers
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Civic Complaints Because of Non Payment of Royalties
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:-Are the percentage of the gifts that correspond to the region of Montelibano, Cordoba. -Involve local governments and the community in general to actively participate in the environmental and social plans carried out by the company Cerro Matoso.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Nickel's exploitation in the area of ​​Montelibano has been carried out for more than 20 years; The farming of at least 15 years is being negotiated from the expiration date (September 2012) and in these negotiations it has not been involved To local governments, nor to the community that inhabits this territory. What has been evidenced is that development at all social and environmental levels that this Mega Mining should bring has not been represented in all of the territory affected by it.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Ley 685 de 2001, Codigo de Minas.

Auditorias y advertencias de la Contraloria General de la Republica sobre contratos de Cerro Matoso y liquidacion de regalias.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un Derecho Alternativos - ILSA Bogota.

UPME (Unidad de Planeacion Minero Energetica en Colombia) (2009). El Niquel en Colombia

Fierro, Julio. (2012) Politicas Mineras en Colombia. Instituto

Viloria De la Hoz, Joaquin, 2004. El ferroniquel de Cerro Matoso aspectos economicos de Montelibano y el Alto San Jorge. Documentos de Trabajo sobre Economia Regional, N. 117, Banco de la Republica, Cartagena.
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Al municipio de Montelíbano no le queda nada de Cerromatoso
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Y ahora… ¿quién podrá defendernos?
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Negociación de Cerro Matoso: arranca el primer vagón de la locomotora minera
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Cerro Matoso debe $61 mil millones por regalías: Contraloría
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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Las verdades de Cerro Matoso - informes especiales
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Other comments:The exploitation of Nickel and iron ore that takes place in the municipality of Montelibano (and also Puerto Libertador and Planeta Rica in Córdoba) is open sky, the largest in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. Evidence a relevant environmental problem, with strong social implications.
Meta information
Last update08/04/2014
Conflict ID:662
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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