Colombia to prohibit mining in gold-rich northern area

BOGOTA Tue Jan 8, 2013 4:52pm EST

BOGOTA Jan 8 (Reuters) - Colombia will create a wilderness park and prohibit mining in a region rich in gold and silver in the country's northeast where Canada's Eco Oro Minerals Corp had hoped to produce precious metals, the government said on Tuesday.

Eco Oro, formerly known as Greystar Resources, had faced opposition from local authorities, the country's inspector general and environmental groups. They called its Angostura gold project a threat to the delicate Andean ecosystem.

The move by the country's environment ministry to create the park effectively rules out any mining in an area of more than 12,000 hectares in northern Santander province.

The company could not be immediately reached for comment.

Critics have said mining would affect Santurban, a so-called "paramo" area believed to be the source of rivers and streams that supply water to 2.2 million inhabitants in Colombia.

The company had rejected those concerns, saying its mine would pose no risk to the environment.

Angostura has 10.2 million troy ounces of measured and indicated gold reserves and 3.4 million of inferred resources, with 74 million ounces of silver reserves and resources, according to preliminary studies.

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