Delegates from the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) were in Colombia participating in various activities as part of their commitment to evaluate the current status of the mining system in the country. The visit also had the purpose of strengthening and fulfilling the framework of the project for the development of skills for the improvement of the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance in mining communities of conflict and high-risk areas in Colombia, which is to be implemented by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, Universidad del Rosario, the Observatorio Colombiano de Minería (Colombian Mining Observatory, OCMI) and Afai Consulting.
Visit to a small-scale mining organization in Manizales
On Wednesday, October 17, Tyler Gillard and Luca Maiotti, both from the OECD headquarters in Paris, visited a small-scale mining operation in Latin America for the first time. The officials from the OECD Responsible Business Conduct Unit, together with Natalia Uribe, head of Standards and Certification of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), were at the Fairmined-Certified La Coqueta mining company in Manizales, Colombia.
It was a great opportunity for visitors to see the steps necessary for the extraction, processing and smelting of gold. In addition, the event allowed them to speak to the miners to understand the future opportunities and challenges of small-scale mining in the region and the country.
With the purpose of understanding how to promote the financial inclusion of the small-scale mining sector of Colombia and discuss the role of responsible and inclusive financing in the construction of a legal and transparent supply chain of minerals such as gold, in the morning of October 18, a meeting was held at Universidad del Rosario, in Bogota, between representatives from the banking sector, the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Unidad de Información y Análisis Financiero (Unit for the Financial Information and Analysis, UIAF), and the Superintendencia Financiera de Colombia (Colombian Finance Superintendence).
During this meeting, attendees discussed the current expectations of banks and financial institutions in regard to due diligence in mineral production and commercial operations; the challenges and opportunities for the development of financial products tailored to stakeholders responsible for supply chains (especially for artisanal miners who work at small-scale organizations); and how to interpret or adapt international regulations and guidelines in order to help banks play a significant role in supporting the responsible supply chain of minerals.
After understanding in detail the challenges faced by artisanal miners when accessing the banking sector, OECD officials agreed to follow-up on national and international institutions with the purpose of solving the bottlenecks that exist in the financial sector, and build more trust among the stakeholders.
In the afternoon of October 18, a meeting was held prior to the opening event of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance project. This meeting between international gold traders and OECD officials was held with the purpose of discussing the challenges, opportunities and obstacles in gold trading. In addition, it was an opportunity to hear firsthand the lessons learned, observations and guidelines of other national and international stakeholders in regard to due diligence and their protocols.
During the event at Universidad del Rosario, in Bogota, it was stated that one of the greatest challenges is recovering the confidence in the sector, and improving the inter-relation of various stakeholders.
Additionally, attendees reflected on lack of unity between gold trading companies, and on the possibility of working jointly with the goal of obtaining more efficient results, having a greater strength before the authorities and the unification of criteria.
At the end of the event, OECD officials invited trading companies to report what they were doing on the matter of due diligence, with the purpose of fostering transparency and having all stakeholders adopt good practices.
Opening workshop of the program for the transparency in mineral supply chains
The first opening workshop of the project for the development of capabilities toward a better implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas of Colombia was held on October 19 in Bogota, with the support of the OECD, and implemented by the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), Universidad del Rosario, Observatorio Colombiano de Minería (Colombian Mining Observatory, OCMI) and Afai Consulting.
“Due diligence strengthens positive impacts and reduces negative impacts: it leads to social, environmental and economic improvements”.
During the opening ceremony, which was hosted by Tyler Gillard, Head of Sectorial Projects and Legal Advisor in the Responsible Business Conduct Unit of the OECD Investment Division, and Carolina Rojas Hayes, Colombia’s Mining Vice-Minister, attendees analyzed the reason why due diligence is important and the challenges for its application.
After that, a panel was held with officials from European Union, Defensoría del Pueblo (Office of the Ombudsman), Asociación Nacional de Comercio Exterior (National Association of Foreign Commerce, ANALDEX), and Daniel Matabajoy, manager of Cooperativa Del Distrito Minero de La Llanada (COODMILLA Ltda.), where each speaker explained why it is important to perform projects with due diligence as part of the gold supply chain, and the most important proceedings that each organization has undertaken.
In addition, a participatory workshop was organized to analyze the risks in the Colombian gold supply chain. During this activity, attendees identified the actions that the various organizations and stakeholders of the gold supply chain are undertaking, the means that can be used to mitigate risks, and who the actions that are being undertaken need to be reported to.
Afterwards, the OECD Due Diligence (DD) project was presented, which has the purpose of strengthening the acceptance of DD procedures among the main stakeholders of the gold supply chain in Colombia.
Furthermore, it aims to ensure that the interested parties of the gold supply chain and others (government, banking sector, civil society, academia) understand the process of Due Diligence and have the adequate tools to apply it in Colombia; and to offer recommendations on how to improve Due Diligence and the responsible supply of artisanal and small-scale mining operators in the country.
The projects will be undertaken in key gold production departamentos: Chocó, Antioquia and Cauca, and Cundinamarca.
“We see the Fairmined Certification as an incentive and an added value for the application of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, because it values our efforts and allows us to, little by little, increase the requirements with sights on improving and being inclusive with miners”.
At the end, an opportunity was given for participants to share their thoughts and opinions in relation to the project, with the purpose of procuring the necessary resources to set it in motion and creating a plan that meets everyone’s needs.
The event was attended by over 100 people, including representatives from the European Union; small, medium and large-scale mining; public offices related to the mining sector; the civil society; experts and scholars; international gold trading organizations, and stakeholders tasked with implementing projects related to responsible supply.
Colombia joined the OECD Due Diligence Guidance in 2012 and became an OECD member in 2018.