Emerging Markets / April 12, 2018

Fostering Mining and International Investment in Colombia

In Colombia, the National Mining Agency (NMA) is an entity attached to the Ministry of Mines and Energy. As part of the national Ministry of Mines and Energy, there is a Vice-Ministry of Mines, along with three entities. These entities are the National Geological Service, which determines the potential of mining projects throughout Colombia; the Energy Mining Planning Unit, which is in charge of mining and energy planning for the country; and the NMA, which is in charge of the administration of mineral resources, of granting mining titles, of the maintenance of projects, and the collection of royalties.

Fostering Mining and International Investment in Colombia

The NMA is also in charge of the promotion of mineral projects and mining in Colombia. Therefore, the basic difference between the NMA and the Ministry of Mines and Energy is that the Ministry formulates regulations and policies, while the NMA executes them. Broadly, this is how government agencies work in Colombia. There is the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and then there is ProColombia, the national business promotion agency. Likewise, there is the Ministry of Transport and there is the National Infrastructure Agency. Moreover, in the case of mining and energy, there is the National Hydrocarbons Agency (NHA) as a counterpart to the NMA.

Within the National Mining Agency, there are four vice-presidencies. Firstly, the vice-presidency for contracting and titling, which is where individuals or companies go and apply for a mining title. Afterwards, once all the requirements are met and the title is granted, the second vice-presidency comes in, which is monitoring and control. The vice-presidency for monitoring and control is responsible for overseeing all of the legal mining titles in Colombia that have been granted by and are registered with the NMA. At least once a year, a technical visit is made to every project and, in some special cases, the check-up visit is made up to four times a year, depending on the size and scope of the operation. Additionally, within the NMA, there is the administrative vice-presidency, which is in charge of the Agency’s internal functioning. Lastly, there is the vice-presidency for promotion, which is in charge of strengthening all of the small and medium mining projects through business programs in order to increase their profitability. Furthermore, the NMA’s vice-presidency for promotion is also engaged in a process of formalizing small or artisanal mining operations that operate without permits, mostly in rural areas. Similarly, one other task carried out by this vice-presidency is the promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI) from the world into Colombia.

As an industry, Colombian mining is open to FDI from throughout the world, as long as it is responsible, sustainable, and meets the established legal requirements. Compared to other South American nations, mining legislation in Colombia is more stringent because of the country’s topography. Contrary to neighbors, such as Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, whose mining is done mostly in desert regions, mining in Colombia is exploited in forests and along riverbanks. Therefore, environmental regulation is more demanding in Colombia than in the rest of the region.

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