The EU Regulation on the responsible supply of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG) from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRA) is a crucial first step towards supply chains free from human rights abuse. The EU Regulation on the responsible supply of 3TG from conflict-affected and high-risk areas (CAHRA) was approved in 2017 and will enter into force in 2021. Before this date, the EU member states need to adopt measures to ensure the implementation of the Regulation. However, the first implementation measures being discussed by member states risk diluting the efficacy of the Regulation by concealing the list of companies subjected to it.
Artisanal gold mining in Colombia is associated with the financing of armed conflicts. The adoption of the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation in 2017 has raised attention to respective challenges. One of the world's largest gold smelters, the Swiss smelter Metalor, has consequently withdrawn from small-scale mining business. However, as the following study argues, the link between artisanal gold mining and the financing of armed conflicts in Colombia is much more complex. At the same time, small-scale mining faces criminalization by national legislation. A general boycott of this sector by major smelters can further marginalize the artisanal mining sector in favor of international mining companies. At the same time, the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation excludes many serious human rights violations, such as violent expulsions and massive environmental destruction by large mining companies destroying the livelihoods of local populations.
Colombia is one of the countries categorised as a conflict region by the EU Regulation on Responsible Sourcing. This paper will take a closer look at gold extraction in Colombia in the context of the violent conflict and human rights abuses taking place there. From there, the paper will present recommendations directed towards the implementation of Accompanying Measures of the EU Regulation on Responsible Sourcing in Colombia, as well as additional measures needed to diminish the levels of conflict and human rights violations in this sector.
The devastating impacts of the trade in minerals linked to conflict and human rights abuses are well documented. The problem has not gone away.