IISS Cartagena Dialogue tackles illegal mining

Monday, 16 March, 2015

The IISS, or International Institute of Strategic Studies, has recently concluded the Cartagena Dialogue, “an exercise designed to bring together the members of the Pacific Alliance, an economically liberal free-trade oriented bloc of Latin American states, together with the major states of the Asia-Pacific region.” 

Ilegal mining, a “commonality” between these jurisdictions, has been covered in a special session. The approach, in the words of Session chair Nigel Inkster in advance of the meeting:

“The commodities boom witnessed over the past decade has heralded an equally large boom in the phenomenon of illegal mining. When people talk about illegal mining, the assumption is that they are talking about small-scale operations with marginal local impact. But in parts of Latin America and Asia, such mining often takes place on a very large scale and has significant detrimental impacts. The fact that it is unregulated means the illegal mining industry observes none of the standards that should apply in the legal mining sector. The result is environmental degradation on a massive scale - deforestation, water and soil pollution, and high levels of toxicity from lead and mercury; the widespread use of child and slave labour; and the extensive involvement of criminal entities and insurgent groups. For example it is estimated that Colombia’s main insurgent groups FARC and ELN derive as much if not more revenue from illegal mining than they do from their traditional mainstay of narcotics trafficking.”

Managing this problem is a complex domestic and international challenge. In the course of a weekend I don’t expect us to come up with comprehensive solutions. But there are grounds for hoping that the IISS Cartagena Dialogue will generate a wider awareness and understanding of the issues involved and help to generate some of the connections and relationships that will be needed to address the problem. A collaborative approach involving both producer and consumer countries will be needed – and many of the major ones will be represented at Cartagena. Watch this space.”

It sounds intriguing. We are indeed watching that space and the Dialogue website is here, though  at time of writing we’re unable to identify a link to the outcomes of the session. Should something come up we’ll let you know - in the meantime do check out the other conference reports as there’s a wealth of sector-relevant information there.