Mining and conflict in Colombia 

Mining activities have been going on in conflict or high-risk areas leading to adverse impacts on human rights. In Colombia, PAX works together with local communities and victims' organizations in the Cesar department to address these impacts, improve the security situation and promote dialogue between different actors in the region.

We support the Asamblea Campesina del Cesar por la Restitución de Tierras y el Buen Vivir in their call for dialogue with different actors in the region, including mining companies, that is aimed at truth-finding, reconciliation and, eventually, contribution to the reconstruction of rural livelihoods.

Situation & Urgency

Mining has been defined as one of key drivers for development and economic growth in Colombia. However, the human rights impacts in conflict areas where mining is taking place have not been addressed. Specifically in the coal mining region of Cesar, the conflict and paramilitary violence has had severe human rights impacts that have not been addressed by the State or the powerful mining companies that started their operations at the height of the violence.

The security situation in this region is still worrying, and even after the signing of the Peace agreement trade union and social leaders continue to be threatened and intimidated regularly by illegal armed actors, while at the same time the State suspends protection measures and largely ignores the security risks. As part of a nation-wide trend, attacks and targeted assassinations of social leaders have increased.

Contact information

Joris van de Sandt, Policy lead Natural Resources & Latin America, vandesandt(javascript needed for readable email)

Activities & results


Locally: La Guajira

In La Guajira we monitor decision-making on the expansion of the Cerrejón coal mine. The Netherlands is one of its main customers. The purpose is to have indigenous peoples consulted about this expansion because of the major changes it brings to their living conditions and culture. A report on this issue has recently been published.


Cesar region

Since 2012 PAX has been investigating human rights violations nearby large coal mines in Colombia’s Cesar region, which are being operated by Prodeco (subsidiary of Swiss company Glencore) and the U.S. coal company Drummond. These businesses supply large amounts of hard coal to energy producers in the Netherlands and other European countries. Through its investigation and lobby campaigns, PAX intends to establish a dialogue between the actors concerned (such as mining companies, the Colombian government, European energy utilities and victims of massive human rights violations), which should lead to reconciliation and the reparation of the victims in Cesar. Read the report The dark side of coal. uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.