Following a number of scandals in which Colombia’s national authorities granted mining titles in precious nature reserves, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that mayors have the authority to overrule Bogota.
Last week’s ruling has plunged the locally active mining industry in an even bigger crisis that the global commodity slump had already put it in.
The ruling implies that literally all of the government’s granted mining titles can be vetoed by the mayor of the municipality where the activity is supposed to take place or already takes place.
Without the mayor’s permission, there will be no mining and ongoing oil or mining projects can be halted, the top court ruled.
Until last week, the national government was the ultimate authority over mining titles, especially if they were considered of “national interest,” but no more, local interests now weigh more.
Mayors and governors have responded delightedly, claiming they can now protect their local ecosystems against a national government that proved hardly critical about where and where not to mine.
Miners aren’t happy at all as suddenly all existing mining concessions can be overruled and some are extremely unpopular because of their environmental damage.
The Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP) would not respond until after thoroughly reading the ruling and said it would make a pronouncement on Tuesday.
The oil companies were already unhappy with a now-sunk peace agreement with Marxist FARC rebels that was to strengthen local communities’ abilities to strike down mining proposals in “prior consultations.”
But the new ruling is even harsher towards mining corporations than the prior consultations agreed in the FARC accord, leaving literally every mining operation causing local controversy at the mercy of local authorities.