Cañaverales Mine

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Cañaverales Mine is a proposed coal mine in La Guajira, Colombia.[1]


The map below shows the approximate location of the Cañaverales Mine in San Juan del Cesar, La Guajira, Colombia. The proposed Cañaverales mine is very close to the urban area of ​​the town of Cañaverales, making it the subject of much controversy.[1]

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The Cañaverales mine is one of three coal projects under development by the Turkish-owned BCC (Best Coal Company) in Colombia's La Guajira department; BCC's other two proposed projects are the Papayal and San Juan mines.[2][3] The Cañaverales mine is estimated to have a useful life of 10 years, with the potential to produce 12 million tonnes of coal during that period.[2][3]

Initially, the coal mine was proposed by MPX Colombia, a subsidiary of MPX Energia SA which in turn was a subsidiary of the diversified EBX Group.[4][5] The business plan called for 3 open-cast mines, in Cañaverales, Papayal and San Benito as well as an underground mine in San Juan. The plan stated that production would commence in 2012. A third-party surveyor identified 144 million tons of reserves and resources with potential for open-cast mining in the proposed areas.[4]

At this time, Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista was the owner of the project. However, after the Sept. 2016 purchase of the CCX coal mine project from the Brazilian EBX group, Yıldırım Group of Turkey rebranded the project under the company name "The Best Coal Company."[6] The Yildirim Group of Companies 2016 Annual Report stated intentions to make Cañaverales operational by 2018.[6]

In September 2017, Colombia's national environmental authority ANLA revoked the original environmental permit for the Cañaverales project[7], which had been granted to MPX Colombia in June 2011.[8] Best Coal Company subsequently petitioned for a reversal of ANLA's decision, but the appeal was rejected in June 2018.[9] Nonetheless, an August 2018 asset report still estimated that the mine would begin operations in 2021.[10]

In its 2019 annual report, Yıldırım Group continued to identify the Cañaverales mine as its "most probable production project" in Colombia. The report stated that "EIA studies have concluded," "the informing of ethnic groups that are recognized by the Interior Ministry as the project stakeholders is finalized," and "the Cañaverales project will be ready for stripping in mid-2020 and then for coal production."[11]

As of 2021, the Cañaverales project remained stalled, with BCC still negotiating for licenses with ANLA, Colombia's environmental permitting authority, and needing to arrange required consultations with the local community.[3]

Conflict with The Local Community

In 2011, residents of Cañaverales expressed concern over the proximity of the mine to their town. Exploration work was carried out within a half-mile (800 meters) of the town[1], and community members say that the mine's main excavation zone would be only 700 meters from Cañaverales' town church.[3] According to a local news report, the mine site also overlapped with a cemetery and threatened a limited water supply.[12]

As of 2019, local opposition to the mine remained strong, with residents asserting their rights to water, food, health, work, and participation in decisions affecting the natural environment. Community members voiced particular concern that the 30-year Cañaverales project would permanently damage the Cañaverales natural spring, located within a protected forest reserve[13][14] only 2.1 km from the Cañaverales mine, which serves the community's everyday drinking water needs and provides irrigation for local farms.[3]

Opposition to the Cañaverales mine remained strong throughout 2021 and 2022, with human rights groups and local residents complaining that Best Coal Company has failed to comply with requirements for fair and open community consultation.[3][15][16][17][18][19][20] Opponents warn of the potential for the mine to turn into a megaproject that would encompass BCC's three proposed mines in the area and a railway connection from San Juan del Cesar to Dibulla on the Caribbean coast.[3]

Project Details

  • Owner: The Best Coal Company[6]
  • Parent company: Yıldırım Group[6]
  • Location: Outside of Cañaverales, San Juan del Cesar, La Guajira, Colombia
  • GPS coordinates: 10.7592558,-72.8490768 (approximate)
  • Mine status: Proposed
  • Start year: TBD
  • Mineable reserves: 26.7 million tons[11][21]
  • Coal type:
  • Mine size:
  • Mine type: Surface[2][4]
  • Estimated annual production: 1.4 million tons[2][21][22]
  • Additional proposed production: The 2010 business plan mentions an expansion of the Northern and Eastern mining limits.[4]
  • Equipment:
  • Number of employees:

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Environmental Justice Atlas Cañaverales, La Guajira, Colombia database, updated April 8, 2014, accessed Nov, 4 2019
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Mining Projects" (PDF). Best Coal Company. March 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 "Cañaverales, la comunidad que tiene frenado un proyecto minero de carbón en La Guajira". Consonante. October 15, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 MPX ENERGIA S.A. MPX Releases MPX Colombia's Business Plan With 1.74 Billion in Potential Coal Resources and a 20 Mty Integrated Mining System, March 6, 2010
  5. MPX "MPX Portfolio", MPX website, accessed February 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Yildirim Group of Companies 2017 Goals and Expectations 2016 Annual Report, accessed Nov. 4, 2019
  7. "RESOLUCIÓN N° 01073" (PDF). ANLA. September 5, 2017.
  9. "RESOLUCIÓN N°00837" (PDF). ANLA. June 5, 2018.
  10. Wood Mackenzie Canaverales coal mine summary of asset report, August 2018
  11. 11.0 11.1 "2019 Annual Report" (PDF). Yildirim Group of Companies. January 2020.
  12. NoticiasUnoColombia Explotación a la biodiversidad Youtube, Oct. 2, 2011
  13. "Pobladores de Cañaverales no quieren explotación de carbón en su territorio | La Guajira". La Guajira Hoy. March 25, 2019.
  14. "Cañaverales dice NO a otra explotación de carbón a cielo abierto en La Guajira". CENSAT - Agua Viva - Amigos de la Tierra (in español). Retrieved 2020-07-24.
  15. "Colombia: ONG denuncia falta de transparencia y acceso a la información por empresa de carbón Yildirim Group con impactos en comunidad étnica". Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. August 25. 2021. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. Mejiía Ospino, Eliana (8 julio 2022). "La Guajira Proyecto minero: Buscan frenar test de proporcionalidad en Cañaverales para proyecto minero". El Tiempo. Retrieved 29 September 2022. line feed character in |title= at position 28 (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. "Comunicado: Denunciamos irregularidades en consulta previa de proyecto de carbonífero en zona del manantial de Cañaverales". CINEP. November 19, 2021.
  18. "Alcaldía de San Juan del Cesar, concejales y empresa BCC analizan situación actual del proyecto minero de Cañaverales - Diario del Norte". Diario del Norte. 2022-06-29.
  19. "Sin consentimiento de comunidad, gobierno da vía libre a proyecto de megaminería". La Guajira Hoy. 2022-06-22.
  20. "¿Una nueva mina de carbón en La Guajira en tiempos de descarbonización?". CINEP. September 5, 2022.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Annual Report 2020 (pp 52-53)" (PDF). Yildirim Group of Companies. January 2021.
  22. Enrique Saez Translation: The sale of CCX assets in Colombia does not prosper, Original: No prospera la venta de activos de CCX en Colombia minería pan-americana, Oct 6, 2014

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External resources

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Colombia and coal