Consultancy firm Americas Market Intelligence or AMI issued this week a lengthy report on the risks of mining in Latin America. One of the chapters focuses on security hazards and reveals that such perils are not necessarily provoked by illegal groups.

According to AMI, sometimes local community members that opposed mining operations can cause security risks by deploying roadblocks and aggressive or invasive tactics at the mine’s perimeter. If the local or federal government does not want to get involved in the issue for political reasons, then the miner is left on its own to deal with the disruption.

As an example, the consultancy firm presents the case of Gran Colombia Gold’s (TSX:GCM) mine in the department of Caldas which was blocked in the summer of 2017 by independent miners, whose protest actions became violent at times. Only after 42 days of rallies was the Canadian miner able to resume operations.

In the Colombian context such as the one where Gran Colombia operates, AMI says it is common to see lawyers and local indigenous representatives engaging the mine in elaborate extortion schemes, usually triggered by environmental damage or the possibility of it. Similar situations take place in Chile.

Trucks burnt by artisanal miners protesting against a subsidiary of Canadian-based Gran Colombia Gold, in Colombia's Antioquia department. Photo from Noticias Caracol.

The document also states that mining unions in Latin America can be very aggressive as well and some of its members can become security risks for companies, particularly if they have ties with organized crime.

The report details the case of unions in Mexico that were traditionally funded by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as PRI. Such labour organizations lost their main source...

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