BOGOTA (Reuters) - Miner AngloGold Ashanti can resume a soil study halted by a municipal council ban on mining activities, the environmental authority in Colombia’s Antioquia province said.
The mayor of the town of Jerico had ordered a suspension of the work in January after the council voted late last year to ban mining in the area.
In a decision dated Feb. 18, Corantioquia said it was lifting the stoppage on AngloGold copper subsidiary Minera Quebradona and resolving two environmental complaints filed by a citizen against the company.
“Non-compliance with a municipal law is not an argument for invoking the power of prevention,” Corantioquia said, adding that the measure did not specify any tangible environmental harm caused by the company’s work.
Complaints by a citizen that Quebradona was causing damage in two ravines were also dismissed by the authority after visits to the sites. It said water levels were low because of the drought-causing El Nino phenomenon and noted that the company has a license to divert some waterflow.
The company was not carrying out mining exploration at the site, but previous exploration by Quebradona indicates the larger area has some 5 million tonnes of copper reserves, the company has said.
AngloGold said in a statement on Wednesday that Corantioquia’s decision confirmed it was attending to environmental requirements at the project.
Jerico’s mayor Jorge Andres Perez could not immediately be reached for comment.
A wave of environmentally focused anti-mining referendums that bar mining and oil extraction had worried investors in Colombia until the constitutional court ruled last year that local votes cannot halt energy projects.
AngloGold was forced to suspend a potentially $2 billion project in the town of Cajamarca in 2017 because of a vote there.
Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Helen Murphy and Chizu Nomiyama