Placing bets on Colombia gold: Paul Harris

Some exploration projects in Colombia are advancing to the mine definition stage, says Paul Harris, the Colombia-based editor and publisher of the Colombia Gold Letter, and with the government starting to provide the level of administration that the sector needs, the country is poised for great things. In this interview with The Gold Report, Harris discusses the implications of Colombia's 2001 mining code.

The Gold Report: What makes Colombia an appealing mining jurisdiction to investors?

Paul Harris: Colombia has gold and it's high grade. There hasn't been a great deal of modern exploration and so there are probably a lot of deposits yet to be found. In the past 10 or 15 years around 90 million ounces have been discovered here.

TGR: How are investors affected by the recent news that the mining code in Colombia might not change, as it was previously thought?

PH: Effectively, Law 1382 of 2010 is dead and buried, so Colombia is left with Law 685 from 2001. This is generally considered a good thing in the mining and exploration sector because it is a technically based law, and people on both the government and the exploration mining sides are familiar with it. We can now expect the ministry to issue some administrative instruments to correct specific clauses. For example, Law 685 said you can't mine in the famous páramos, but it never defined what the páramos were. That needs a regulation that can be implemented via an administrative instrument. It doesn't need the drafting of a new law.

TGR: Are páramos similar to the national parks in the United States?

PH: No. A páramo is a specific ecosystem that typically occurs above 3,000 meters elevation. It is a rare ecosystem that has characteristic flora and fauna. Páramos should be well defined to ensure that they're protected and also so that land that is not páramo can be available for exploration and mining or, indeed, other economic activity.

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