Country Risk

Heightened risk of homicide and property damage to affect mining in Colombia’s Antioquia in one-year outlook

21 September 2018

A miner working 400 meters underground in the 'El Aguinaldo' gold mine, in Remedios, Colombia, on 17 July 2018. Source: Anadolu Agency/Contributor/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Recent attacks against staff of Canadian mining company Continental Gold by suspected FARC dissidents are likely related to either extortion or attempts to dissuade formal mining operations in illegal mining hot spots.
  • Both scenarios entail a heightened risk of homicide to staff and property damage to mining projects operating in central Antioquia above Medellín.
  • If the motivation is to dissuade formal mining, attacks are likely to continue until projects are suspended or the perpetrators are apprehended.
  • If the motivation is extortion, stopping attacks will involve paying off armed groups, a criminal offence.


FARC dissidents are likely behind a fatal attack on a Canadian-operated mining project in central Antioquia.

On 20 September 2018, suspected dissidents of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)’s 36th Front attacked a mining camp operated by Canadian company Continental Gold in the municipality of Yarumal, Antioquia. Three geologists were killed in the attack and another three injured. On 5 September, an engineer employed by the firm was killed in Buriticá, approximately 50 kilometres from Yarumal. It is unclear if both incidents are related. There is significant illegal mining activity in Antioquia. Government attempts to regulate informal miners have been met with fierce resistance, affecting the operations of legitimate mining companies operating in the department. In July 2017, approximately 6,000 informal and illegal miners protested against Canadian firm Gran Colombia Gold’s operations in Remedios and Segovia, and against government decrees aimed at disrupting the processing and sale of illegally extracted minerals. The protests included the detonation of an improvised explosive device (IED) against a water pipeline used by the firm, the arson of several vehicles, and the use of live ammunition and grenades against state security forces. Also in July that year, six Continental Gold contractors were killed following an accidental gas explosion that occurred during an inspection of an illegally constructed mining tunnel located within the firm's concession in Buriticá.

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