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Glencore and Prodeco coal mining, Colombia

Blatant violation of the American Convention of Human Rights, of the Colombian Constitution, of the Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as well as of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.


(Español, abajo) - Summary of the conflict The accused company is the Anglo-Swiss Glencore PLC, the tenth biggest corporation in the world, which is dedicated to the extraction and commerce of metals and other energetic and agricultural products. In Colombia, through its subsidiary PRODECO and interest in FENOCO, Glencore is responsible of constantly breaking the legal and contractual obligations with regard to mitigation, prevention and compensation of environmental impacts derived from its activities, as well as of several fiscal wrongdoings. Moreover, as a consequence of extractive activities, the quality of life of local communities has been drastically affected, especially with regard to social conflicts, both with the public authorities and the mining enterprise. The militarization of the area, the demographic distortions and the restrictions to the use of land, air and water to the point of causing several forced displacements, have all contributed to an environment of high insecurity. The foregoing is a blatant violation of the American Convention of Human Rights, of the Colombian Constitution, of the Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, as well as of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Glencore and Prodeco coal mining, Colombia
State or province:Departamento de Cesar
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/1995
Company names or state enterprises:Glencore Public Limited Company from Switzerland
Fenoco from Colombia - Prodeco has shares in it
Relevant government actors:Gobierno de Colombia, República de Colombia, Autoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales (ANLA), Presidencia de la Republica, Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, Ministerio de Minas y Energia, Policía Nacional de Colombia, Ministerio de Defensa
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centro de Estudios para la Justicia Social “Tierra Digna”, Pensamiento y Acción Social PAS, CINEP, FIAN Colombia, ASK, Misereor, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Permanent Peoples Tribunal
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Presentation to the case to the Popular Peoples Tribunal
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:The affected communities mainly demand: (i) that they a process to recognize their rights is guaranteed; (ii) that the impacts of the activities are recognized; (iii) that mining in their territory is not extended and thus that the economic model is diversified; and (iv) more information and transparency to understand the extent of the impacts and the chain of responsibility. Additionally, among their priorities are the resettlement of the displaced communities in a place where their communitarian life and self-sustainability are assured and the access to national and regional justice for the investigation of the violations.
Las comunidades afectadas demandan principalmente: (i) que se les dote de garantías para lograr un proceso de reconocimiento de sus derechos; (ii) que se reconozcan los impactos producidos; (iii) que la minería en su territorio no sea ampliada y que, por tanto, se diversifique el modelo económico; y (iv) mayor información y trasparencia para entender la profundidad de los impactos producidos y la cadena de responsabilidad. Además, entre sus prioridades se encuentran el reasentamiento de las comunidades desplazadas en un lugar en el que se garantice la vida comunitaria y autosostenible y el acceso a la justicia tanto nacional como regional para la investigación de las violaciones sufridas.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The mining activities still continue, as well as the impunity in the national cases that the company faces. There are still displaced communities that have received no compensation nor resettlement.
Las actividades mineras todavía no han cesado y la impunidad de la empresa en los casos nacionales abiertos contra ella sigue latente. Hay comunidades que siguen desplazadas sin haber recibido compensación ni reasentamiento.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Constitución de Colombia
[click to view]

Principios Rectores del Relator de Empresas y Derechos Humanos

American Convention on Human Rights
[click to view]

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
[click to view]

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

Informe sombra de sostenibilidad de las operaciones de Glencore en Colombia
[click to view]

PAS, Pensamiento y Acción Social
[click to view]

FIAN Colombia
[click to view]

Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power
[click to view]

Testimony of the case in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing - Corporate Human Rights Violations and Peoples Access to Justice. Geneva, 23 June 2014
[click to view]

Tierra Digna
[click to view]

CINEP - Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular
[click to view]

Other comments:See more at:
Meta information
Contributor:Tierra Digna, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Transnational Institute - TNI, Friends of the Earth International
Last update27/08/2015
Conflict ID:2007
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