Colombia has produced gold for over 400 years, mainly in Antioquia which has been the heartland of the Colombia gold trade since the Colonial times. Since the early 2000’s when the price of gold began to rise, the region has experienced a violent gold rush. Leftist guerrillas, neo-paramilitary outfits and drug trafficking groups have established their presence to control mining operations.
These illegal mining operations bring in approximately $7 billion per year to armed groups and criminal bands. This is fueling violence as gold has overtaken cocaine as the main source of revenue in Colombia now, which is why all of the gangs have taken over. Segovia, where almost 20% of Colombia’s gold is produced in the nearly 50 mines in the town, has become the centre of the violence.
Local villagers, mostly artisanal miners, have been shaken by extortion, threats, territorial disputes and grudge fights that have been caused due the gang activity. These miners, along with rural Colombians who have come in search for work, are forced to pay a “tax” to the armed group that controls the area. If they fail to do this they are told they will be killed.
Being a miner in Colombia is more of an identity than a job, they take pride in the work that they do. However they are being forced to work for criminal gangs who are stealing profit from these hard working individuals.
A handful of the mines are owned by Gran Colombia Gold, a Canadian-based gold and silver exploration, development and production company with its prime focus in Colombia. This company is currently the largest underground gold and silver producer in Colombia. They own several underground mines and have two processing plants in operation in Segovia. One of the mines that Gran Colombia now owns was once a successful mining cooperative, whose license was sold by the Colombian Government to the Canadian company.
Many miners and mine owners believe the government is trying to force them out of their mines. This began in 2015 when the Colombian President’s administration decided to prioritise cracking down on unlicensed mining. Their reasoning for this was to cut off a lucrative source of income for armed groups. As well as their attempt to curb mercury poisoning in the rivers – traditional miners use the chemical to separate gold from earth and other metals. The traditional miners believe that the President just wants to open the way for multinational investors to buy up the land.
If you have any (legally acquired!) gold that you wish to sell, get in touch with us or come and visit The Manchester Gold Exchange in Victoria House, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, M4 7DB or call us on 0161 273 2511 for a no obligation quote!