Colombia Environmental Minister Susana Muhamad said the country could require mining firms to obtain environmental licenses for exploration in order to protect the environment, increase state control and prevent conflict between communities and miners, reported Reuters.
Currently, the South American country only requires environmental permissions for projects in the exploitation and production phases.
“I think we must put an environmental license for exploration … because there are also lots of conflict and a lack of control over mining exploration processes,” Muhamad said.
“That would help exploration be firmed up in a better way, there can be dialogue and regulation mechanisms and joint work between the government, the companies and communities.”
Another licensing process would present a new obstacle to exploration for minerals. An inside source told Reuters that “exploration projects have a period of between eight and 18 years during which companies invest millions in resources without any certainty of finding a deposit. An environmental license would extend those time-frames and de-stimulate key investment.”
Muhamad’s comments come as mining companies have warned a proposed $5.6 billion tax reform meant to fund social programs would negatively affect the industry. Reuters said the legislation would levy a 10% tax on income earned when coal and oil are exported for prices exceeding a certain threshold, though a bid to include gold exports may be withdrawn.