New Colombia report sheds light on link between gold extraction and criminal activities

UNODC, together with the Colombian Government, recently launched a study on alluvial gold exploitation in the South American country. Photo: UNODC9 August 2016 - UNODC, together with the Colombian Ministries of Justice and Law, Mines and Energy, and the Environment, recently launched a study on alluvial gold exploitation in the South American country, and the relationship of this activity with organized crime. Findings indicate that an estimated 60 per cent of this industry in Colombia is not established within existing normative frameworks and in many cases finances and strengthens organized criminal groups.

Among other findings, the report shows that in 2014 78,939 hectares (ha) of land were affected by alluvial gold exploitation at the national level, distributed over 17 of Colombia´s 32 departments. Of this detected area, 79 per cent was concentrated in the departments of Antioquia and Chocó. The municipality of Nechí, in Antioquia, represented the most affected area with 6,232 ha, or 8 per cent of the country's total.

Furthermore, the report points to a link between alluvial gold exploitation and coca crops. On this, the document reports that, for instance, in the Caquetá, Nariño and Putumayo departments, over 80 per cent of the detected gold extraction activities are found in territories affected by coca crops. Bolívar has 45 per cent of this activity in territories affected by coca crops, while in Chocó, Valle and Antioquia this percentage is between 30 and 35 per cent.

The report also warns about the presence of alluvial gold exploitation in special territories within Colombia. In this sense, Afro-Colombian communal lands were the most impacted among the special territories, with 46 per cent of the gold exploitation instances. To a lesser degree, although still warranting attention, the Emberá-Katío indigenous communities (in Chocó and Antioquia departments) were reported to be highly vulnerable to alluvial gold activities.

Through this report, the Government of Colombia and UNODC hope to contribute to a better understanding of alluvial gold exploitation activities in the country, offering objective information that contributes towards the formulation of more specialized public policies regarding this phenomenon. The information contained in the new report further offers a research framework which clarifies the relationship between this mineral exploitation modality and illegal and criminal activities.

Further information:

Study on Alluvial Gold Exploitation in Colombia (full report in Spanish, Executive Summary in English)

Infographic supplementing the study (in Spanish)

UNODC in Colombia