What do the engineering works for the partial modification of the course of Bruno Creek in the La Puente project consist of?

This project consists in moving a stretch of 3.6 km farther north by 700 metres, duplicating the natural physical and biotic conditions in the creek’s lower basin on Cerrejón licensed property with no communities. The approved design incorporates the best practices and standards in national and international engineering.

The La Puente Pit is one of the most important ones in Cerrejón’s current and future operations. Its possibilities for expansion will replace lost production from pits whose reserves will be exhausted in the short term.

Bruno Creek

Bruno Creek is located along the boundary of Albania and Maicao. Its headwaters are in the upper zone of the Serranía del Perijá (La Guajira) in the Montes de Oca Protected Forest Reserve. Its course runs southeast-northwest for 22.4 kilometres until it meets the Ranchería River.

According to IDEAM data, this creek is seasonal, with wet periods in May, October, November, and December, and eight months of dry periods from January to April and from June to September. Consequently, the volume of flow varies depending on the season and the stretch where the measurements are taken (upper, middle, or lower parts).

In the upper part, at the creek’s headwaters, there is more water than in the lower section due to greater precipitation and less evaporation, and so it is the aquifer’s recharge zone.

In the middle part, in the municipality of Albania, is the area of La Batea, which the communities use for recreation, vehicle washing, and occasional water withdrawals by residents whose communities may be undergoing temporary water shortages in wells, cisterns, or traditional water ponds (jagüeyes).

Given the need to improve the creek’s water supply, Cerrejón will undertake basin-conservation activities in this section with active community participation.

The lower section acutely reveals the creek’s seasonal nature in accordance with the afore-mentioned wet and dry periods. There is no agricultural nor fishing activity nor are there any human settlements near the creek.

This area is the site of the engineering works for the partial modification of the creek’s course. Nearby is where the mining activities are planned, on Cerrejón property acquired in 1982 from private owners and where, as a result, no one has resided since then.


Current status

The project for the partial modification of the course of Bruno Creek has concluded, and the new course is now stabilizing. The construction phase provided nearly 330 direct, temporary jobs for residents of nearby communities and municipalities.

Currently, the environmental reclamation and stabilization is underway, covering the banks of the new course with a layer of topsoil and planting the first generation of plants.

The hydrological monitoring program (to comply with a requirement established when the environmental permits were granted by Corpoguajira and the ANLA) has begun. In addition, construction has concluded on the 1,000 habitats planned for colonization by different species typical of the riparian buffer zone. Some of these habitats already show signs of colonization.

Projects stages

Advantages of the design and construction

Completed studies

The partial modification of the course of Bruno Creek has been included in the Environmental Management Plan of the New Mining Areas since 1998. Those studies have been updated with the aim of ensuring an appropriate characterization of the environs and an impact analysis.

Between 2012 and 2016, therefore, the physical, biotic, and social components were characterized and approved with the detailed engineering plans by the ANLA in Resolution 0759 of 2014.

The complementary studies were carried out, as required by Corpoguajira for the environmental permits, including the study of the review and application of the recommendations made by the IDEAM.

The results confirmed the reliability of the hydrogeological model considered by the design of the engineering works.
This project took into account the hydrological studies carried out by Cerrejón over the course of 30 years as well as the detailed hydrogeological analyses that were part of the geotechnical and hydrogeological exploration and of previous monitoring and observation.

Furthermore, they have been endorsed by national consultants (Ingetec and Conconcreto) as well as international consultants (Alluvium).

The process with communities and other stakeholders

The preliminary studies included the analysis and assessment of the impacts identified and the corresponding management measures. The various aspects characterized included:

  • settlement dynamics
  • healthcare system
  • demographic conditions
  • educational systems
  • traditional economy and activities
  • social organization
  • ethnolinguistics
  • institutional presence
  • community relationship with natural resources

The data was obtained from studies by State agencies on societal issues incorporating typical topics: demography, space, economy, politics, culture, organization, and archaeology. In addition, information was gathered from existing Cerrejón studies and primary data from the surroundings.

This analysis, together with the analyses of the biotic and abiotic components, identified the impacts in the studies presented to the authorities. As regards possible impacts on the culture, beliefs, ways, rites, and traditional economies of the ethnic communities, the Ministry of the Interior found that, with the exception of the Campo Herrera indigenous group, no other ethnic communities were affected.

The Ministry of the Interior’s Resolution 03 of 2013 certified the indigenous community of Campo Herrera (Wayuu ethnic group) as the only one potentially impacted by the engineering works for the partial modification of the course of Bruno Creek due to the community’s occasional fishing activities downstream of the work site, at the confluence of Bruno Creek with the Ranchería River. Therefore, a prior consultation was carried out starting on August 21 of 2013 and formal agreements were signed on May 1 of 2014.

On October 16 of 2016, in a second instance decision in the implementation of the writ for the protection of constitutional rights (tutela) brought by the community of La Horqueta 2, the Council of State ruled that a prior consultation be held with said community. This decision is firm as it has not been selected for review, and the consultation is underway, with five meetings already held and the methodological pathway agreed upon.

The Comprehensive Environmental Offset Plan operated by Conservation International Colombia aims to improve the structure and conditions of ecosystem connectivity of 235 hectares in the middle and upper basin of Bruno Creek. The latter is the aquifer’s recharge zone.

The plan’s actions seek to help maintain water quality and regulation as well as to restore, recover, and rehabilitate degraded sectors of the sub-basin. The plan will also empower families to use sustainable agricultural practices through conservation agreements.

The plan also covers the development of alternatives for groundwater supply, such as new wells, training programs, and a hydrogeological study of the Oca fault in order to determine its potential for water supply in the area of the creek’s basin.

The Colombian Geological Service presented the report “Hydrogeological Conceptual Model in Strategic Sectors for the Management of Groundwater in the Department of La Guajira”, carried out through an agreement in 2014 with Cerrejón. This report, together with 30 years of geological and hydrogeological data from the company on the area, improved knowledge of the zone’s aquifer systems and their main characteristics as regards water quantity and quality.


Validators

Cerrejón has used various corporate means to present the project for the partial modification of Bruno Creek to the general public. It has also been socialized through visits to the project site by over 6,000 people (including community residents, authorities, NGO members, journalists, and opinion leaders), not counting company personnel.

RELEVANT FIGURES

The engineering proyects allow to maintain:

Producción


The engineering proyects allow to maintain the productivity levels of the company

Employment


600 jobs in the short term.
1.100 jobs in the middle term

Contracts in La Guajira


COP 500 million in purchases and contracts in La Guajira.

Taxes and royalties for the country


Up to 2033 COP 3,7 billons .