California is the first town in Santander to launch a service center for the mining community.
California, November 10, 2023. During a joyful and applause-filled day, mining and social leaders from California (Santander) and representatives of the Soto Norte Project officially launched the first mining service and information center, named "Orgullo Minero" (Mining Pride). The mining service and information center seeks to strengthen local mining tradition, facilitate communication with regional and national authorities, provide education and information on the sector, offer technical support, guidance, and assistance in formalizing and legalizing mining concessions and special reserve areas.
This new service to the community is one of the main achievements that Californians have made thanks to the 2023 Social Agreement with the Soto Norte Project (PSN). As part of these agreements, the communities proposed and prioritized the creation of the Local Economy Committee, which in turn was tasked with creating a new information center to serve the community specializing in the trade they have been doing for more than 400 years.
According to mining community leaders, it is clear to the community that strengthening the mining industry, as the territory's most important trade and the first line of the local economy, must receive special attention to ensure its continued development under legal and sustainable parameters.
"Mining is the foundation of our people's economy. So, we want to be allowed to do it lawfully. We are more than 400 miners hoping to formalize, including the young ones. We strongly urge this information and service center to bring in experts on the subject to help answer our doubts and move forward with formalization," said Hipólito García, a Californian miner.
The opening event featured Monica Grand, former Director of Formalization of the Ministry of Mines and Energy; Yaneth Mantilla Barón, Executive VP of Strategic Affairs of the Soto Norte Project; and Carlos Mario Márquez, General Manager of SandraK37 SAS, a mining unit with an operating contract with Aris Mining.
"We are very proud of what is happening in California and to help people move forward with these initiatives, whose main purpose is to preserve the mining tradition. This confirms that our Soto Norte Project is based on a social model that measures its achievements through community well-being. Our success lies in building a Soto Norte region that is united, happy, and proud of its identity," said Yaneth Mantilla Barón, PSN's Executive Vice President of Strategic Affairs.
At the new Mining Service and Information Center, all traditional and informal miners will have the opportunity to receive permanent guidance, counseling and training to take that step towards formalization. This will be a community-run and community-led center, in addition to the formalization and mining integration programs already implemented by the Soto Norte Project, where the community will have a place equipped with the essential tools to assist them and solve any doubts they may have.
The "Orgullo Minero" Mining Service and Information Center will be staffed by a Californian miner with a background in environmental matters, extensive knowledge of the mining activity developed in this region, and excellent regional and national institutional connections. He or she will be joined by a Californian civil engineer, qualified to handle the IT platforms and systems used in the sector, such as the integrated mining management system of the National Mining Agency called 'Anna Minería.' This system is a digital platform integrating mining and environmental information to promote the sustainable development of mining activities in Colombia, promoting legality and transparency.
There will also be the youth and digital journalism initiative 'California Dorada,' which is a group of young people who came together to run communication campaigns to strengthen mining pride and combat stigmatization, thus making Californians feel proud of who they are.
The community hopes that the “Orgullo Minero” Mining Service and Information Center becomes the link between California and the National Government institutions to ensure a smooth flow of business.