A 2016 peace accord enticed Canadian miners back to this dangerous territory — since then at least 10 employees have been murdered
A team of geologists from Toronto-based Continental Gold Inc. was holed up in a remote farmhouse in Colombia’s rugged mountains on a rainy September night, planning to collect rocks and prospect for gold. Instead, they were attacked by gunmen.
Two men and one woman — all geologists between the ages of 24 and 32 — were killed. The others suffered bullet wounds, broken bones and bruises, according to public accounts of the attack, which is receiving wide coverage in the Colombian media.
For years, Canadian mining companies have considered large swaths of Colombia too dangerous to enter because of the armed conflict between the government, right-wing paramilitaries, left-wing fighters, drug cartels and crime syndicates.
But a peace accord in 2016 has enticed the world’s largest mining companies and many of Canada’s juniors, such as Continental Gold, to send geologists into the largely unexplored pockets of the Colombian Andes, hoping to find a mother lode of undiscovered precious metals even though Colombia can still be a dangerous place to operate.
“We’re now in a period of the post-accord, but it’s not post-conflict,” said Catherine LeGrand, a professor of history at McGill University in Montreal who studies Colombia. “The (peace) accord has been signed, but there’s still conflict between certain armed groups.”