Our coal mining asset, Prodeco, is located in the north of Colombia. The Colombian nation has been in a state of armed conflict for over 60 years and its defence ministry has a constitutional obligation to provide appropriate security measures to critical national infrastructure. Due to coal mining being identified as a vital national interest, we are required to cooperate with the Colombian military to this end.
In 2005, a significant step towards resolution of the conflict took place, with the demilitarisation of paramilitary groups. The government remains in talks with guerrilla groups of the FARC and ELN to bring about the cessation of conflict. Progress has been encouraging and has contributed to an improved security situation. Neither Prodeco nor Glencore have ever had any relationship with any illegal armed groups, whether guerrillas or paramilitaries. We believe that responsibility for ensuring a sustainable peace process, including reparation for the actions of illegal armed groups, lies with the Colombian state.
In 2008, Colombia became a member of the Voluntary Principles Initiative and adopted a comprehensive human rights policy, including human rights training for all public security forces, i.e. their armed forces and police. Prodeco has also implemented its own human rights policy, based on Glencore’s Group Human Rights Policy, and uses the Voluntary Principles to guide the use of private security forces and inform interaction with public security forces. There is currently an action plan in place to close any gaps in our compliance with the Voluntary Principles during 2015.
We provide human rights training to both our employees and critical contractors at this asset, which includes upper management (over 4,000 hours during the last two years). We also have grievance mechanisms for community members to raise concerns without fear of recrimination. These include a complaints register, our community offices and a phone hotline. We register, investigate and address all complaints and report back to each complainant.
We have created specific community programmes to address the challenges faced by vulnerable communities (many of which are victims of forced displacement due to conflict). The programmes cover education, the reinforcement of communities and institutions, and income generation. We work in partnership with the national agencies responsible for social development; our role helps to better connect these vulnerable communities with the government.
We recently signed a “self-regulation commitment,” along with the other 12 companies that comprise membership of Colombia’s mining sector association. This body’s main objective is to establish guidelines and best practices regarding health and safety, human rights, the environment, ethics and local communities. We are also a member of Compromiso Etico (“Ethical Commitment”), a multi-stakeholder platform for Swiss companies operating in Colombia and the Swiss government, which have signed a commitment to integrate human rights into their operations.
Prodeco plays a key role in Colombia’s ongoing economic development, locally and centrally. Along with all stakeholders, we believe we can play a part in helping the state achieve a meaningful solution to past events, while developing a sustainable platform for future development.