Water or Gold? Colombians to Decide
In an unprecedented move, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, the newly-elected mayor of Ibagué (Colombia), has announced that a local referendum will be held on mining and related activities within the municipality. The referendum is expected to take place in May, in spite of bitter opposition from the mining lobby.
Residents of Ibagué are concerned that mining projects in the area, including AngloGold Ashanti’s La Colosa project, would result in serious environmental impacts, if allowed to go ahead. Such a referendum (or in Spanish, consulta popular) - in a regional capital of 650,000 people - to debate the fate of large-scale mining, is probably the first of its kind in the world. There is a growing opposition to mining in the region - last June 50,000 people from all walks of life took to the streets of Ibagué in protest.