Starting January 1, 2015, Colombia’s national mining agency, the ANM (Agencia Nacionál de Minas) has implemented a registry of authorized gold traders within Colombia to combat the widespread illicit and informal gold mining. This registry is designed to combat two problems, the health and environmental damage of informal and unregulated gold mining, and the serious problem of organized crime and rebel groups funding themselves through gold mining, and using gold as a money laundering device.
The registry, known as RUCOM for its name in Spanish: Registro Unico de Comercializadores de Minerales, es expected to permit the government to control illicit extraction, and to incentivize formalization of the mining sector.
The registry sets out to establish a chain of custody for gold; registrants will have to show that the gold comes from properly titled mines, or from traditional communities authorized to mine in specially designated areas (such as for indigenous tribes).
Also very important, is the RUCOM’s provision for Barequeros, the traditional solo prospector panning for alluvial gold and minerals in Colombia’s rivers and streams. According to law 685 of 2001, municipal mayors are responsible for registering and tracking barequeros, and the areas where they operate. Mayors are now expected to submit these registries to the RUCOM.
“We call on the country’s mayors to exercise the responsibility they have under the Act. As the Mining Authority, we require that local leaders provide us with the list of those who fall into the category of barequeros, so that in this way we can control activity and some key issues such as trafficking in royalties and tax evasion, “said the president of the National Mining Agency, Natalia Gutierrez Jaramillo.
RUCOM is necessary because of the informality of the gold mining sector in Colombia. There are only 134 titled gold mines in Colombia, but their output accounts for only 17% of Colombia’s gold exports. A whopping 83% is informal and unregulated, subject to control by insurgents and organized crime.
“With RUCOM, the government seeks to ensure that buyers and sellers only acquire minerals registered in the lists issued by the National Mining Agency, which have their respective certification. The purpose of this new tool is to give greater transparency and control to the trading of minerals in Colombia, preventing them from being used for money laundering and the financing of armed groups outside of the law. Mining cannot be used as the vehicle for financing illicit activities,” points out Gutierrez Jaramillo.
Headline photo of barequero: “Orpailleur à Madagascar” by Lebelot – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons-https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Orpailleur_%C3%A0_Madagascar.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Orpailleur_%C3%A0_Madagascar.JPG