Scoping Mission of the Colombian Coal Sector, report for the Dutch Parliament

Responsible coal mining has become a major topic on the Dutch political agenda. For at least the next 15 years, coal will continue to be an important contributor to the country’s energy mix. Hence, the Dutch government is keen to support and strengthen responsible practices in the coal supply chain, in particular in the main sourcing country, Colombia.

At the request of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Colombia, The Terrace and BSD Consulting were selected to do a “Scoping Mission of the Colombian Coal Sector”. The objective was to understand the situation on the ground in the coal mining regions of Cesar and La Guajira, where the operation of large-scale and open pit coal mining destined for export is concentrated, and to define the outline of a possible contribution of the Netherlands.

Our team travelled to Colombia to visit the mining regions and to speak to all relevant stakeholder groups (Colombian government, mining companies, labour unions, local communities, NGOs etc.). Over 50 interviews were undertaken to ensure that the defined proposal for a Dutch contribution is adjusted to Colombian reality and to local stakeholders’ needs. Many concerns were expressed regarding a large variety of social and environmental issues, influenced by a difficult political context with 50 years of internal conflict.

The Scoping Mission has concluded a contribution by the Dutch government to take on the social, environmental and labour challenges in the coal mining areas is feasible and desirable. This should be done in close cooperation with relevant Colombian stakeholders. The Scoping Mission recommends a contribution based in four possible work streams:

a. Mediation of a dialogue to solve conflicts between stakeholders;

b. Through continuous dialogue, encourage the Colombian government to be more proactive in addressing social and environmental challenges in the coal areas;

c. Support reliable and independent data collection of environmental and social impacts caused by local industrial development;

d. Support thematic projects that address pressing challenges in the mining region (e.g. to improve water management).

The final report has been sent to Dutch Parliament by Minister Ploumen (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation), in preparation of the Minister’s visit to Colombia in late November. The report “Scoping Mission: Understanding the Context of the Colombian Coal Sector” can be downloaded here.