University of São Paulo: Poli Mining Research Center carries out mission in Colombia

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The Research Center for Mining at the Escola Politécnica da USP (NAP-Poli) carried out a mission in Colombia to learn about and improve the experiences of responsible mining, with the coexistence between small miners and large companies. The city of Antioquia, Colombia, was chosen to receive researchers for the development of alternatives in mining, based on the exchange of experiences between countries with different realities.

In the model undertaken by the Poli researchers, practices focused on small mining operations, which, in Brazil alone, account for more than 85% of mining activity. The developed model of the practice corresponded to small and medium-sized mining and was based on the dynamics of cooperative work and support groups, associated with development and innovation, “that are appropriate to the local environmental context and even to the technical characteristics of this type of operation”. ”, adds Carlos Henrique Xavier Araújo, mining engineer and researcher at NAP.

There was then a more ostensible monitoring, based on financing from the EGPS fund of the World Bank, of the regions of Peixoto Azevedo, in Mato Grosso, in the region of Tapajós, which covers portions of the State of Pará, and in the district of Lourenço, Amapá. Small gold mining is characterized as the main economic activity in these places and, therefore, it was necessary to identify goals to propose recommendations in research initiatives, in order to prepare prospectors and miners “with a focus on sustainability” and “responsible mining”. ”.

This format, in addition to providing an exchange of experiences, also encourages mining research. The first objectives of the applied methodology were the training of garimpeiro cooperatives, to form partnerships with the private sector and to adopt more responsible practices in the activity.

Expansion of methodology and results
A similar model was implemented in Colombia, in which the coexistence of small miners and large companies was designed to “bring the formalization of small mining activity in the country”, explains Araújo. He also highlights that, in this case, coexistence arises from contracts based on types of activities to be developed by the miner.

With focused research, he points out that it is possible to observe more alternatives in mining, improving, for example, the “processing part of the mineral good”. And, in Colombia, this was possible with the integration of the team of researchers from USP and the leaders of mining cooperatives, which resulted in two main results, as Oswaldo Simonsen Nico, also an engineer and researcher at NAP-USP, emphasizes: the development of research and methodologies in new techniques and the concern with workers in the sector.

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