DE RUEHBO #1076 0451501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141501Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2719
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY UNCLAS BOGOTA 001076
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: TRAGEDY STRIKES ARTESENAL COAL MINES IN COLOMBIA
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE TREAT ACCORDINGLY
1.(U) On February 3rd and 6th, two highly publicized coal
explosions occurred in isolated areas of Colombia, resulting
in forty deaths. Both are methane gas related in Colombian
owned mines. The first occurred in Sardinata, Norte de
Santander, causing the deaths of 32 miners, the deadliest
mining accident in Colombia in more than ten years.
Operations have been suspended pending GOC investigation.
The second accident occurred in Gameza, Boyaca, causing the
deaths of 8 miners. This mine was unlicensed and the workers
had no social security protection. One of the victims was
underage (age 16; the minimum legal age to work in mines in
Colombia is 18). This mine has been shut down. Both of these
mines were locally owned and operated by Colombians -- there
was no foreign capital or involvement.
2. (SBU) GOC Ministry of Mines and Energy officials told
econoffs artesenal mines are very common in the mountainous
regions of Santander, Boyaca, and Antioqiua. They are small
and difficult to regulate due to their isolated locales and
security risks for GOC officials. The relatively minimal
output is used locally to generate electricity, provide
heating, or local manufacturing.
3. (U) The mine in Boyaca was unlicensed and the workers
salaries and benefits were not being paid in accordance with
Colombian law. One of the victims was 16, well below the 18
year old minimum the law requires to work in mines.
4.(SBU) GOC officials report that illegal mines are on the
increase given the rise in coal prices since 2005. INGOEMINAS
(the government department within the Ministry of Mines and
Energy responsible for all mining matters) estimates that out
of the 3000 mines in Colombia, an estimated 1000 operate
without permits. With only 50 inspectors for the entire
country, INGOEMINAS freely admits that they lack capacity to
effectively monitor mine activity. The widespread press
attention brought to these incidents has increased attention
to the existence of these mines, and their poor labor
practices that has generated political pressure for
INGEOMINAS to more actively regulate illegal mines.
This website hosts an archive of all 251,287 US Embassy diplomatic cables that were released by WikiLeaks between November 28, 2010 and September 2, 2011.
While the cables are generally available at http://wikileaks.org/cablegate.html
, we find it hard to search or even navigate the site to read the cables.
We have made all 251,287 cables available here at Dazzlepod with the hope to make it easier for readers to browse, search, share and discuss about the released cables.
The cables are periodically selected and posted to our Twitter page
and Facebook page
for readers to review them.
For comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org