Angelika Rettberg / Juan Felipe Ortiz Riomalo

Golden Conflict: Exploring the Relationship Between Gold Mining, Armed Conflict, and Criminality in Colombia


This article explores the connections between gold mining, armed conflict, and criminality in Colombia between 2001 and 2013. We describe the context of mining expansion and identify aspects of mining activity and of its institutional context that may be fostering the connection between mining and conflict. We identify twelve mechanisms whereby mining may be nurturing conflict and criminality, which we group in two categories: direct and indirect mechanisms. Direct mechanisms refer to activities whereby illegal armed actors seek direct access to mining-related rents. This may take the form of actually running mining operations or taking part in distribution and trade of mining output. Indirect mechanisms are those whereby mining feeds into and exacerbates existing social conflict or contributes to funding illegal actors, e.g. via protection payments. Tracking these mechanisms allows us to present estimations of the volume of mining-related resources currently flowing into the coffers of illegal actors. Based on our analysis we end with policy recommendations aimed at delinking gold mining from armed conflict and criminality in Colombia.

Note: Downloadable document is in Spanish.

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