Colombia Goldfields has made significant advances towards preparation of its environmental baseline study for the Marmato Mountain gold project in Colombia. The study will form the basis for the company’s future environmental permits and its social and environmental impact statement (EIS).
Vegetation cover maps of the Cascabel Basin have been completed and soil sampling is underway for each vegetation type. The company has also purchased and installed a permanent solar powered weather station to measure temperature, wind direction and velocity, rain, solar radiation, relative humidity and evaporation.
The first detailed water monitoring ever undertaken at Marmato was completed in December 2006 at 18 locations in three creeks and two locations on the Cauca River. The sampling was a joint effort with Corpocaldas, the state environmental agency responsible for the environment in the department of Caldas. Due to unregulated discharge from the mills and the lack of any tailings disposal facilities at Marmato, cyanide levels are toxic in all locations and the amount of suspended solids is many times above acceptable levels.
Colombia Goldfields has established that it has no current environmental liability for these past practices and has already received approval for drilling from Corpocaldas under an approved environmental management plan. Nevertheless, the company intends to meet or exceed modern global standards of environmental stewardship in the preparation of the baseline study and subsequent EIS.
Colombia Goldfields has engaged, or will engage, a number of leading environmental consultants to assist in this work. LHC Consultores Ambientales has been engaged to implement the environmental strategies in Colombia; additionally Colombia Goldfields intends to hire an independent external consultant to oversee environmental gathering and collecting practices. Knight, Piesold and Co conducted a review of the Colombian terms of reference for the completeness and compliance with International Banking Institution Standards for preparation of social and environmental impact statements, and their suggested changes are being incorporated into the work.
This work includes repetition of the water sampling programme every four months. The company has also mapped all areas of solid rock waste disposal and outlined areas of inherent slope instability both for future mining and for monitoring dangers to the present town of Marmato.
In the Zona Alta at Marmato Mountain the company has purchased the majority of the legal small mines and a large number of the small mills. To improve the environment the mills will be shut down and dismantled and the mines will be closed to commercial production but will be kept open for exploration drilling and sampling.
The benefits for the community include: elimination of unsafe mining practices; improvement of the water quality by reducing and eventually stopping toxic waste disposal and solid effluent discharge; assistance to the government in environmental management; and it will improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of the Municipality of Marmato.