August 16, 2019

Cerrejón reports on partial diversion of Bruno Creek and application of constitutional court ruling

As we have been reporting, partial modification of the Bruno Creek (Arroyo Bruno) riverbed has been done in accordance with Colombian law and applying the highest standards and best technologies to ensure that the stream’s ecosystem continues to function properly. This intervention has formed part of the Environmental Management Plan since 2005, and its detailed engineering was approved by the National Authority of Environmental Licenses (ANLA) in 2014. The work consisted in transferring 3.6 km of the stream’s lower basin riverbed 700 meters north of its original location. The work was completed in 2017 and the new channel is working well and is monitored on an ongoing basis by the proper authorities.

On April 2, 2019, Cerrejón was notified of the Constitutional Court decision (SU-698 of November 2017) on the tutela presented by the indigenous communities of La Horqueta, La Gran Parada and Paradero regarding alleged effects created by the partial modification of the stream’s riverbed.

The decision of the Court was to suspend the advance of mining activity towards the creek and instructed the Inter-institutional Work Group, made up of 17 members – of which 16 are public national and regional entities plus Cerrejón – to undertake, along with Cerrejón, a technical study that offers a response to the “Uncertainties about the environmental and social impacts of partial modification of the Bruno Creek riverbed”, in order to be able to assess its environmental sustainability” (Fifth Order of the decision). In addition, it establishes “that the cited Inter-institutional Work Group must open sufficient participatory spaces for representatives from the petitioning communities, as well as for the institutions and technical personnel who intervened in the current process” (Fourth Order). Once the corresponding technical study clarifying the uncertainties raised is available, how the mining activity will move forward in that area will be defined.

To ensure the participatory spirit of the decision, the Work Group has counted on participation from representatives of the petitioning communities and third parties involved in the process, in different forums so they can present and discuss / debate technical arguments supporting their concerns, which serve as input for the required analysis. The Work Group has already begun to promote these forums through a meeting held on June 5 and with two visits to the creek on June 6 and July 8. It is hoped to expand even further these genuine opportunities for participation.

Cerrejón trusts that this participatory process contributes to strengthening the work of the Inter-institutional Work Group, and wishes to state once again our commitment to an operational model that is responsible and respectful, not only with the decisions of the Court but also with the legitimate interests of all parties concerned. Cerrejón wants to repeat that it will be this Work Group, and not Cerrejón, who decides on the uncertainties, the return – or not – of the new riverbed to its original bed, and the details on the forums for participation. Cerrejón is respectful of judicial decisions and of the Colombian institutions that independently and autonomously deal with the concerns expressed in the tutela.

For more information, we invite you to read the following response to international organizations who expressed their concerns over the status of the creek and the application of the judicial ruling mentioned above.