Supporting Colombia’s quest for sustainable coal

25th Apr 2017

A few weeks ago, I was in Colombia to see first-hand how responsible mining is contributing to local communities and the environment, and to also witness the work being done by the newest member of the World Coal Association (WCA) - Cerrejón.

Cerrejón is an integrated mining company based in La Guajira, where it produces more than 32 million tons of coal every year.

Colombia has the largest coal reserves in Latin America and is one of the largest coal producers in the world. So for Colombia, coal is crucial to economic and social development. That’s why Cerrejón’s membership of the WCA is very significant. The WCA believes in a sustainable future for coal. This future is founded on operational excellence by integrating sustainability across the entire business model from operations through to supporting new technologies for coal use. By joining the WCA, Cerrejón is demonstrating its commitment to both economic and environmental imperatives.

We know that the environment is a vital resource for life and so we need to ensure that we restore mined lands to their original state or better, that’s why Cerrejón’s work in this area is vital. I saw first-hand the result of Cerrejón’s land rehabilitation work. More than 2700 hectares of mined land have been rehabilitated. Rehabilitation plans are drawn up even before mining starts. By carefully pre-planning projects, implementing pollution control measures, monitoring the effects of mining and rehabilitating mined areas, the coal industry minimises the impact of its activities on the immediate environment and on long-term land vitality.

These two images – one of an operational mine and the other of a rehabilitated land – are perfect examples of what rehabilitation looks like

Cerrejon

As the leaders of the global coal industry, we believe that protecting the environment and supporting communities is vital in mining operations. I'm delighted to have seen first-hand the work that Cerrejon is doing on these issues and the global leadership it's showing on sustainable mining.While there, I also met with Carlos Andrés Cante, Colombia’s Deputy Minister for Mines. He said he was keen to see Colombia leading the way in responsible mining practices and wants to see concerted international effort on this issue. He is passionate about “mineria bien hecha” which translates into “mining, done well”.