Colombia to eradicate illegal mining: president

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-7-18 12:51:41

The Colombian government will eradicate illegal mining that damages environment and funds rebel groups while keeping the independent mining running, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday after demonstrations broke out in key mining departments.

"We are not against artisanal mining, we are against criminal mining that damages the environment and breaks all laws. We have seen how illegal mining is destroying rivers, reservoirs and the entire country," Santos said at a public event in the city of La Virginia in Colombia's western department (state) of Risaralda.

More than 200,000 artisanal and small-scale miners went on strike on Wednesday in 18 different regions, demanding a repeal of the Andean Community law that allows authorities to seize and destroy machinery used in illegal mining.

Miners called for the government to make a new law, clearly differentiating between independent artisanal miners and illegal miners.

The president said he was willing to listen to the demands of the miners and was pleased to hold dialogues.

But he warned that the government will not allow any of these strikes to blockade a single highway that affect Colombians' daily life.

As the world's fourth-largest exporter of coal, Colombia has been suffering several rounds of strikes from local miners who demand better treatment since February.

Posted in: Americas

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