Colombia's agriculture minister calls for stricter mining laws

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Colombia's agriculture minister calls for stricter mining laws

A plan to auction up to 2.9 million hectares of land to mining companies could overpower the agriculture and livestock sector unless done with care, warned the country’s agricultural minister Juan Camilo Retrepo Salazar.

Retrepo told a mining conference in Colombia that ecological damage due to mining represents one of the principal threats to the country’s agricultural sector.

“Mining must be developed but with order and without overpowering sectors such as agriculture and livestock, water sources and ecosystems,” Retrepo said.

He called for stricter laws to to govern the mining sector which has the power to grant mining licenses for more than 50% of Colombia's land currently used for agriculture and livestock.

Conflicts over land rights for mining have hit other growing nations in South America.

In Chile the mining sector has taken from the labor pool traditionally used for fruit harvesting with water rights also an issue for the agricultural industry.

Related stories: SA: farming community testifies in court case over mining rights

Photo: Colombia's agriculture and rural development ministry

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