Mining is part of the culture and way of life of many Afro-Colombian communities. Chapter V of Law 70/1993[1]of the National Constitution establishes that the Community Councils, as administrative bodies of the collective Afro-Colombian territories, have stewardship over the conservation and protection of the collective property.

These community based organizations are also caring for the preservation of the cultural identity, and the use and conservation of natural resources. However this chapter of Law 70 is pending regulation[2]. Afro-Colombian communities demand greater self-determination over their collective territories, and greater capacity to influence decisions made in Bogota regarding minerals development inside their collective territories. According to Helcías Ayala from the Institute of Environmental Studies of the Pacific (IIAP)[3], the reiterated demands of the afro-movement regarding mining policy revolve around four main themes:

Application of a differentiated approach by mining policy, to make it responsive to the particular ethnicities, cultures, territories, and social interactions within afro-descendent communities, to include:

  • Waive the surface tax
  • Define the scope of current mining concessions within Afro-Colombian community mining zones
  • Simplify processing requirements, and differentiate them according to different scales and types of mining operation
  • Enable innovative and collective approaches to minerals production, for instance, supporting ethical certification initiatives and other and other community mining enterprises[4]
  • Enable release of conservation lands from the Pacific Forest Reserve, in specific areas where formalization and support for responsible community mining initiatives are feasible.

Strengthening of Chapter V of Law 70/1993: To enforce effective exercise of rights and governance in their collective territories, they propose:

  • Regulate the right of first refusal in case of external request for concession inside collective territories.
  • Regulate free, prior, and informed consultation and consent.
  • Regulate the manner in which technical support to Afro-Colombian community miners is to be delivered.
  • Regulate agreements and partnerships with external investors or miners.
  • Regulate protocols and internal regulations of the community councils for mining in collective territories.
  • Regulate governance inside Afro-Colombian mining areas within collective territories.
  • Regulate organization and promote the formation of miners’associations.
  • Regulate access to social security and pensions for artisanal miners.

Decentralization of the mining authority: this involves the strengthening of regional and local service offices by the National Mining Agency, with the delegation of authority for granting of mining titles, and the capacity to deliver training and technical assistance, inspections, promotion and support in social and environmental management of mining.

Mining and environmental planning within collective territories:

  • Improve information and knowledge management (including geological exploration).
  • Delimit protected and conservation areas from mining areas
  • Restore degraded ecosystems for conservation, with a sustainable development approach.


[1]Develops the transitional article 55 of the Political Constitution

[2]The regulation sets out how the law is to be implemented. Without regulation it is left open to different interpretations. The Afro-Colombians are calling for Law 70, Chapter V to be interpreted in accordance with their collective rights to identity, territory, autonomy, participation and self-determination in the spirit of “Buen Vivir.”

[3]From the interview with Helcías Ayala, 4 of April, 2014.

[4]For example the Guaches de Agua Clara in Union Panamericana, ASOMIBE in  Cocomacia (Medium Atrato), and la Ruta de la Cultura del Platino in the collective territories of San Juan, among others.

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