TORONTO, Jan. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - Gran Colombia Gold Corp. (TSX: GCM) today
provided an update on the progress of its Marmato Project, located in
the Department (State) of Caldas, Colombia. The Company will hold a
conference call on Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern
Time) to discuss the progress at Marmato, the details of which are
located at the end of this news release.
On November 28, 2011, the Secretary of the Department of Caldas,
Fernando Alvarez Hely Mejía, confirmed the Department's commitment to
assist Gran Colombia in reaching an agreement with artisanal mines
within the Company's concession at the Marmato Project, which
negotiations are well underway.
At the Marmato Project, there are a few formal mining titles still to be
acquired, as well as certain artisanal miners which need to move their
operations. There are a total of 15 mining titles at Alto El Burro
that the Company requires, and since starting negotiations in early
November, it has reached agreement with ten (67%) of the owners. At
Chaburquia, Echandia and Cien Pesos, there are a total of 76 artisanal
mines, representing 501 workers, and since starting negotiations in
early November, the Company has reached agreement with 49 (65%) of
these mines, representing 228 workers, and is in the midst of
negotiations with the remaining 27 (35%). Under these agreements, the
artisanal mines will continue to operate for up to two years, at which
time the Company anticipates commencing large scale mining at the
Marmato Project. The Company has also implemented an environmental and
safety training program for the artisanal miners, which will not only
serve to immediately improve environmental and safety conditions at
Marmato, but will lay the groundwork for these artisanal miners to be
available for employment by the Company at its open-pit mine at Marmato
The Company still has to negotiate with the remaining artisanal mines at
Chaburquia, Echandia and Cien Pesos, as well as with the remaining
title-holders at Alto El Burro. It is anticipated that almost all
negotiations will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2012.
Marmato Resettlement Progress
In order for the Company to build the open pit operation at Marmato, the
existing town of Marmato will need to be moved and the existing
residents re-settled to nearby areas including the town of El Llano,
approximately 1.5 km away. The new town of El Llano will be a planned,
modern community with proper streets, sewage, utilities and clean
water, which is important in a district where only 53% of the homes
have running water and only 56% are connected to a sewage system.
Also, as it sits in the valley next to the El Burro hill on which the
Town of Marmato is situated, El Llano will not be subject to the
periodic landslides that afflict Marmato.
In connection with the resettlement, Gran Colombia has engaged Social
Capital Group, a company with extensive experience in community
resettlement in South America, to complete a population census and a
socioeconomic survey of the community. The results of the census will serve as a framework for the Company to establish compensation
parameters, appropriate income restoration and sustainable development
initiatives in the new resettlement area. The census is also designed
to ensure the mitigation of any adverse effects, and help verify that
the benefits of resettlement of the Town of Marmato are appropriate and
Work conducted by Social Capital indicates that there are approximately
203 homes in the Town of Marmato (1,370 in the town and surrounding
district) with a population of 749 people (5,424 in the town and
surrounding district). In the town and surrounding district, 97.6%
(2,232) of people of working age are employed, of whom 998 (44.7%)
already work for Gran Colombia at its Mineros Nacionales mine or in
exploration, planning and related activities.
The exact number of people to be resettled will be included in the
Resettlement Action Plan, which is currently being prepared by Social
Capital. The Plan is expected to be completed in early 2012 at which
time the Company will engage national, regional, local and community
leaders, as well as the Catholic Church and independent NGOs, to work
together to resettle the people of Marmato. As part of this engagement
process, Gran Colombia has recently commenced a door-to-door
information campaign with the objective of informing the community
about the resettlement process and assessing and addressing the
concerns raised by the community. Initial results indicate that, only
30 days into the process, at least 41% of the community supports the
Recognising the importance of the local Roman Catholic Church to the
fabric of the Marmato community, Gran Colombia has commenced working
with the Archdiocese to enlist their help in the socialisation and
proper implementation of the plans for relocating the community.
In addition, Gran Colombia has hired BSD Consultants, a
Switzerland-based consulting group with offices in Colombia, which has
broad experience in implementing corporate responsibility and
sustainable development projects within Colombia, to advise the Company
on land purchases and the design, management and implementation of a
sustainable urban development plan for the resettlement of the Marmato
community. BSD will also assist the Company in developing and
implementing social, local and institutional development programs in
the local community.
The Company has also engaged Replan, a Canadian organization with more
than 30 years of experience specializing in managing social, economic
and housing dimensions of resource development projects, to perform an
audit on all processes for the resettlement of Marmato and to provide
recommendations based on such audit.
Gran Colombia continually re-affirms its commitment to social
responsibility initiatives in the Town of Marmato, and recently
contributed approximately US$2 million to the town and its surrounding
area, to be used to fund Phase II construction of the El Llano
Hospital, the construction of an administrative centre and other
community projects. Through its Mineros Nacionales mine, Gran Colombia
already pays royalties of between 0.4% and 4% to the national
government and a 6% special administrative fee for certain of its
mining titles payable to the local authorities in Marmato, totaling
US$1.9 million alone for 2011 (to September 30). The Company, as it
has done for the social development of the Segovia district, also
intends to establish a special purpose foundation, funded out of
production from the Marmato Project, the sole purpose of which will be
the improvement of social conditions in the Marmato district.
Gran Colombia regards the Marmato resettlement as an opportunity to
improve the livelihoods and the future development of the Marmato
community and such planning is being undertaken by the Company in
strict accordance with international standards for resettlement as
recommended by the World Bank in their International Financing
Gran Colombia has also become a member of Canadian Business for Social
Responsibility (CBSR), which is the Canadian representative in a
world-wide network committed to corporate social responsibility, and
which will assist Gran Colombia by providing key findings,
opportunities and recommendations to our policies and programs, to
ensure that they are all to international standards and guidelines.
CBSR will also facilitate some of the processes that the Company is
implementing by providing their insight and experience.
Appointment of Director of Sustainability
The Company is also pleased to announce the appointment of Luca Altamura
as Director of Sustainability of the Company, effective November 15,
2011. Mr. Altamura's focus will be on managing the Company's social
and community relations, and corporate social responsibility. Mr.
Altamura is already actively involved in the negotiations with the
artisanal miners on behalf of the Company and has engaged directly with
the community of Marmato with respect to the resettlement of the town.
From 2010 to July 2011, Mr. Altamura was the Associate Protection Field
Officer for the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees
based in the Caquetá Department of Colombia where he was responsible
for assessing the needs and social conditions of internally displaced
persons and providing counseling and support through the UN and local
authorities in Colombia. He was also responsible for the supervision
and co-ordination of certain work related to community service, public
policy, education, law enforcement, land and property in the Department
of Caquetá. In 2008, Mr. Altamura served as an Intern International
Mediator in San Diego (California) and practiced law in Italy from 2003
Mr. Altamura holds a law degree from the University of Federico II
(Naples, Italy), and has obtained a PhD in Administrative Law and a
Masters in International Law. In addition, he has completed several
post graduate courses in various subjects including Peace and Human
Rights, International Mediation for the UN, and International Conflict
"We are delighted to have Mr. Altamura as part of the Gran Colombia
team. Mr. Altamura brings to Gran Colombia considerable knowledge and
experience in adopting and implementing social policies and
resettlement programs for populations that need to be moved," said
Maria Consuelo Araujo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Company.
Conference Call Details
A conference call will be held on Wednesday, January 11, 2012, at 11:00
a.m. Eastern Time, to discuss the progress at Marmato. The call-in
details are as follows:
Toronto & International:
North America Toll Free:
Colombia Toll Free:
A playback of this conference call will be available by dialing
416-849-0833 or (855) 859-2056 with the above conference ID number
until January 25, 2012.
About Gran Colombia Gold Corp.
Gran Colombia is a Canadian-based gold and silver exploration,
development and production company with its primary focus in Colombia.
Gran Colombia is currently the largest underground gold and silver
producer in Colombia with six underground mines in operation. In
addition, Gran Colombia is also developing a large-scale, open-pit gold
and silver mine at Marmato. The Company also has a highly-prospective
land position in Colombia as well as an advanced stage property in
Venezuela and earlier stage properties in Mali.
Additional information on Gran Colombia can be found on its website at www.grancolombiagold.com and by reviewing its profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.
Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Information:
This news release contains "forward-looking information", which may
include, but is not limited to, statements with respect to the future
financial or operating performance of the Company and its projects.
Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by
the use of words such as "plans", "expects", "is expected", "budget",
"scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates", or
believes" or variations (including negative variations) of such words
and phrases, or state that certain actions, events or results "may",
"could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved.
Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks,
uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results,
performance or achievements of Gran Colombia to be materially different
from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or
implied by the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements
contained herein are made as of the date of this press release and Gran
Colombia disclaim, other than as required by law, any obligation to
update any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new
information, results, future events, circumstances, or if management's
estimates or opinions should change, or otherwise. There can be no
assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as
actual results and future events could differ materially from those
anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, the reader is cautioned
not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.
SOURCE Gran Colombia Gold Corp.
For further information: