Colombia has important
deposits of the following natural resources: Petroleum, Nickel, Gold,
Natural Gas, Iron ore, Silver, Coal, platinum, Emeralds.
In order to be able to
exploit or mine Colombian fossil and mineral natural resources, a national
concession is required. Generally the control of prospectors is assumed by
INGEOMINAS. In order to obtain the searching and production rights, a fee
of about 70% of the extraction value has to be paid. In most cases, raw
materials are extracted with the aid of foreign companies, who have access
to the necessary technical and financial means. Foreign investments occur
through international bids, which are subject to the supervision of the
Oil and Gas
For quite a long time oil has
been extracted in Colombia. Already in the twenties, deposits were
exploited, mainly for domestics supply, however, during the last fifty
tears oil has been exploited in order to be exported.
Recently, many new deposits
in various regions of the country have been discovered. Hitherto
Colombia’s oil resources added up to about 2.2 billions of barrels. A
relatively new, huge deposit near Cusiana and Cupiagua, in the eastern
planes, has a potential of about 1,6 billions cubic feet of natural gas.
Its exploitation started in 1993 and has increased the current production
in about 50% ( to 844.000 barrels per day). In 1999 Colombia was the third
more important oil exporter in Latin America.
Due to the above mentioned
reasons, Colombia is now one of the most important oil products of Latin
America. However, the government still declines to join the OPEC, because
it is worried about not being able to fulfill compulsory export conditions
OPEC members must comply with.
Oil exploitation rights
belong to the state owned company ECOPETROL, one of the most important
buyers of European machinery, installations and pipelines. Taking into
account Ecopetrol´s profits (1998: about 3.1 billions US dollars) and its
number of employees (10.500). Ecopetrol is one of the most important
However, Ecopetrol exploits
not all oil fields. Many foreign companies have acquired rights. Now days,
the most important mining problems is represented by the country ´s
different guerrillas, who every now and the damage the pipelines because
they reject the export of raw materials due to ideological reasons.
Foreign investments ate mostly managed in the form of an Association
Contract with Ecopetrol.
Colombian natural gas reserves are estimated in cubic feet. Natural gas is
only produced for domestic supply. Production will increase considerably
due to the program of the “gas for people”. Up to this year it is believed
that consumption will increase up to 800 million cubic feet and by 2010
around 40% of the population will be provided with natural gas through
pipelines. Infrastructure works were finished last year.
Colombia has the largest
reserves of coal in Latin America, consisting of high quality bituminous
coal and a small amount of metallurgical coal. Due to the discovery of
huge coal reserves in the northeastern department of la Guajira, the coal
production has gained importance, especially due to its export potential.
The “Cerrejon Norte” coal
deposit in the Guajira was tapped at a cost of about 3.6 billions US
Dollars. Coal resources amount it three million tons, which partially lie
deep down at 300 m below the surface. In 1996 the “Cerrejon Norte”
production accounted for 60% of the national production,. The American
company EXXON and the states owned company CARBOCOL are partners in the
Cerrejón norte mine. Each company owns 50% of the project. New deposits
are tapped by CARBOCOL, and they assure that nor only US technology is
desired to develop these new deposits.
During the last year, coal
export has turned out to be more and more important as earner of foreign
currencies. But in the longer term domestic consumption will increase as
well. For this reason the tapping of new deposits is now encouraged.
Almost 80% of the worldwide
emerald production come from Colombia. The expert can recognize – just by
the color- from which region of the country the precious stone comes. The
most famous ones are found in Muzo (departament of Boyacá)
The mining of emeralds –
until recently in hands of the government - is today in private
ownership. By this way illegal mining and gang wars, wish fight against
each other to get the best deposits, should be over.
Up to 1998, around 83 million
dollar (fob) worth had been exported.
Silver, Platinum, Iron Ore
Hitherto gold and platinum
production has been undertaken in a fashion similar to the old days in
Alaska. Moreover in the department of Chocó, many gold and platinum miners
wash the desired metals with primitive instruments. Unfortunately, due to
this method impossible to amend damages are caused: the mercury necessary
for removing the gold flows down springs and rivers polluting water as
well as fauna and flora.
National production of nickel
is almost exclusively operated by the state owned company CERROMATOSO,
which is now privately managed. Working at full capacity the mine produces
about 20.000 tons per year.
Jewelry, mostly imitations of
pre-Columbian originals, and emeralds have become more and more important