MEDELLIN, Colombia, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Colombia will easily
attract major mining investment by solving licensing and
regulatory bottlenecks and dealing with security issues
comprehensively, the vice minister of mines said on Wednesday.
Colombia has long sought to tap its gold, copper and other
mineral deposits, especially with the bleak outlook for coal.
But potential investors regularly face licensing problems which
delay projects or security issues which affect production.
The government is working to speed permissioning to ensure
exploration leads to successful production, Vice Minister of
Mines Sandra Sandoval said on the sidelines of the Colombia Gold
Symposium in Medellin.
"The best way to promote investment is with concrete and
demonstrative actions. If we are able to move today's projects
ahead and be successful in consolidating their exploration
processes and confirming we have the potential ... investment
will come by itself."
The country had previously not properly supported nascent
exploration projects, she said.
"For us it was exploitation, exploitation and we never did
the work to identify who was in Colombia and carry out an
accompaniment process so they can move ahead."
Solving security issues requires a comprehensive approach,
she said, including legalizing informal miners and cracking down
on illegal supply chains.
"Security forces go and get the exploitation, they burn the
machinery, they take people to jail. ... But it's such a good
business that someone else will come," she said.
"We also need to control the profit, who processes it, the
China's Zijin Mining has said production at its $1 billion
Buritica project is being seriously affected by illegal miners
who sell gold to the Clan del Golfo crime gang.
"With Zijin we are accompanying them, but with a
comprehensive vision of the fight against illegal exploitation,"
Some 40% of Colombia's gold output comes from subsistence
miners, about 30% from major producers, and the rest from miners
in the process of formalizing.
(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)