SFH Assessment on Colombian Tantalum
RESOLVE, the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), and Responsible Trade LLC conducted a Solutions for Hope feasibility study for a proposed “closed pipe” system for sourcing conflict-free material from an artisanal tantalum mine site in Colombia. A team represented by Resolve, AVX, and ARM met with various Colombian governmental officials in early 2015 for an initial evaluation. Based on the initial findings, an in-depth research effort was made in late 2016 to better understand the current challenges and opportunities to legally source tantalum from Colombia.
Further evaluation found that current conditions are not favorable for companies to pursue tantalum sourcing from Colombia, given questions around legal status and the suspension of mining titles for artisanal tantalum in strategic mining areas, and the absence of a clear legal framework that regulates the extraction and trade of Colombian tantalum. The unclear framework and confusion about the laws and how they should be enforced has also created an opening for trade of material of ambiguous legality (especially under the label of “black sands”). Yet due to the lack of quality geological data that would allow for informed decisions and the complexity of the areas in which tantalum is found – distance from the capital city, difficult logistics, minimal state presence, and an important environmental protection value – the government prefers to abstain from decision making until more is known. It appears that this data is being gathered by a geological survey, which should be available in late 2017, and should give interesting insights on the viability of small-scale tantalum mining in Colombia.
A public summary of the evaluation is now available.