Colombia watchdog opposes Canada miner's gold project

BOGOTA (Reuters) - A Colombian state ombudsman on Tuesday recommended the government consider rejecting a license for Canadian miner Greystar Resources to develop a gold project because of environmental concerns.

The national Inspector General’s recommendation is not binding, but the ruling could bolster those who argue the Angostura gold mine project would impact the delicate paramo ecosystems in northeastern Santander province.

“The Inspector General’s office has requested the ministry... study the possibility of not authorizing the environmental license for the mining project Angostura,” said the ombudsman in a statement.

Colombia, once written off as a failing state mired in drug violence, is enjoying a resurgence in oil and mining investment as its long guerrilla war wanes and companies return to explore in areas dismissed in the past as too dangerous.

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.

Colombia is studying whether to grant a license for the project but the government has already accepted that the company does not have to resubmit its environmental impact study to conform to new mining regulations.

Greystar said on Tuesday that the government had requested a second public hearing on the proposal to allow groups opposed to the project to present their case.

Local Colombian authorities are also discussing whether to grant a water permit to AngloGold Ashanti for its La Colosa gold project. In 2008 regional authorities ordered the project suspended on environmental grounds, but a partial permit was later granted by the central government.

Reporting by Patrick Markey in Bogota; editing by Gunna Dickson