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Eco Oro – formerly Greystar – Angostura gold under IFC CAO Review

Eco Oro Angostura Project under CAO Review

In April 2011, I posted a blog entitled IFC-owned Greystar/Angostura gold development in trouble and wondered if  IFC’s Ombudsman/Advisory Ombudsman (CAO) office (or others) would be asked to review why and how IFC proceeded with a $12 million equity investment in this project, which became reincarnated as Eco Oro Minerals Corp (TSX: EOM). http://wp.me/p27qSt-B9

As detailed further on its website, the CAO received a complaint from local civil society committees in Bucaramanga, with the support of several international NGOs. Concerns appear to center around water quality concern and irreparable environmental damage to the ecology of the Santurban Paramo.

The CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment. Following field trip in October 2012, to meet with the relevant stakeholders, and apparent lack of interest to resolve this case through dispute resolution, the case was transferred to CAO’s compliance function.

The latest – August 2013 – update notes that the CAO has issued Terms of Reference for a Compliance Investigation of IFC’s investment in Eco Oro Minerals Corp. The case is now in CAO’s  audit phase. Shortly before that, Eco Oro released a statement that its Angostura Project was declared a project of national interest in Columbia. The note also highlights that the project has been in development for over 18 years during which time it has invested over $220 million in the project's development and in that of the surrounding communities.

It will be interesting to watch how this process and the underlying project unfold in the coming months and years ahead. According to a recent Bloomberg article, Eco Oro hopes to start gold production as soon as 2016. I wonder if this may be a bit optimistic given some sustained advocacy NGO and, presumably, politics involved.

Where will the Angostura gold project go from here and what will be the lessons learned by the IFC and junior miners?

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One Response to “Eco Oro – formerly Greystar – Angostura gold under IFC CAO Review”

  1. September 22nd, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Adam McEniry says:

    I remember not long ago in the middle of the last decade when Colombia was considered the darling of mining investors. With companies and hundreds of millions of investor dollars pouring in. Anglogold Ashanti was leading the charge, with multi-million ounce gold discoveries like la Colosa. Well the luster is now off Colombian gold due largely to social and political license challenges that have prevented any of these large recent year discoveries coming online to my knowledge (http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/07/colombian-town-says-no-to-gold-mine/).

    The case of Angostura, appears similar to many of seen in the Andean region. Seemingly unwilling to take the social and political fallout of greenlighting a project with considerable opposition (a fairly ubiquitous situation in Colombia), and also reticent to lose face in the investor community, the government just puts off the necessary approvals. Thus the conundrum is either passed off to the next government, or the company runs out of patience or financial resources.

    The IFC will no doubt be hard pressed to meet its criteria of “broad social support” for this project, and will be very cautious about taking an equity stake in further Colombian gold mining projects. Colombian juniors are already learning their lesson the hard way, due to the market’s appetite for risk drying up.

    Mining companies still have a long way to go when it comes to earning the trust of community and other stakeholders. Upon visiting Eco Oro’s website I found plenty of investor-related information on the financial and technical merits of the project, but none (without deep digging) on the environmental technology and processes it (presumably) would use to manage its impacts to the paramo and natural environment.

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