South African miner AngloGold Ashanti is halting plans to develop one of the world's largest open-pit gold mines in central Colombia after residents in March overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, the company said Thursday.
While hailed as a victory by environmental activists, the backlash against mining has become an obstacle to President Juan Manuel Santos's plans of using mining to modernize a country emerging from decades of rebel conflict.
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AngloGold, the world's third-largest gold miner, was granted an exploration license by the central government more than a decade ago. But voters in the small farming community of Cajamarca decided in a binding March referendum to ban all mining in their town, fearing contamination of their land and water.
Other towns around mineral-rich Colombia are also expected to organize similar votes on similar projects.
"We're obligated to take the unfortunate decision to stop all activity in the project, and with it the jobs and the investment, until there are assurances given to mining activity in the country," AngloGold said Thursday.
The project in Cajamarca, dubbed La Colosa, or the Colossus, was AngloGold's biggest untapped load. It was not expected to begin large-scale mining operations there until 2026. AngloGold had said it had the capacity to produce at least 28 million ounces of the precious metal.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 27, 2017 18:29 ET (22:29 GMT)