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The Colombian government and indigenous people decide to protect the Sierra Nevada from mining

The Government of Colombia and indigenous peoples agreed to protect the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain system on the planet, from mining activity, after which communities natives will march in the last days.

Bogotá, Nov 26 (EFE) .- The Government of Colombia and indigenous peoples have agreed to protect the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain system in the world, from mining activity, after native communities marched in recent days.

"The agreement that we have basically achieved consists of having defined a roadmap to make the decisions that allow no mining project to develop in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, "said Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera, who signed an agreement with the indigenous leaders.

Rivera said that the Sierra Nevada "has to be a protected area of ​​mining exploitation" and stressed that they agreed on "a methodology, a road map, to reach to that purpose "and" ensure that there are no mining projects "in this area.

In turn, the Minister of Environment, Luis Gilberto Murillo, announced that 585,000 hectares were declared more of this mountainous chain free of mining.

"We have taken the decision to freeze about 585,000 hectares so that no new mining title or concession is given in this area. mining and we are going to create protection zones there, "explained Environment Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo, quoted in a statement released by the Interior Ministry.

The official said that this extension adds to 40,000 hectares in the National Natural Park in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which ensured that in "close to one million hectares in that area today there is no large-scale mining project "nor will there be.

" It is a decision that guarantees that we will protect that ecosystem for humanity, "said Murillo.

The leader of the Arhuaco Saul Mindiola told Efe that the march was "after more than 20 days of being in the city a representation of the Arhuaco people in the framework of the Confederation Indigenous Tayrona ".

Mindiola denounced that" today the national policy is leading to the (activity) mining "since" 183 mining titles have been granted "in the Sierra Nevada and there is" more of 300 applications. "

In addition, he warned that there are" megaproject construction exercises "and mining exploitation projections within the ancestral territory of the aboriginal peoples that inhabit the Sierra.

On the agreement, Leonor Zalabata, leader of the Tayrona Indigenous Confederation and Commissioner for Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia, considered a "very important advance" for the native communities.

"It is very important what has been achieved, because the objective of this peaceful mobilization, which is declare the Sierra Nevada outside of mining, "he added in statements released by the Interior Ministry.

In Colombia, another debate has arisen about the possible start of activities mining companies in the páramo de Santurbán, in the department of Santander (northeast).

The conflict arose when the Minesa project, whose main shareholder was the Mubadala de The Arab Emirates requested a license to develop a gold mining operation in the vicinity of the páramo, a protected natural region that also provides water to the nearby municipalities.

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