As I have stated in previous answers to parliamentary questions on this matter, I am aware of the complaints that have been made by some non-governmental organisations regarding private sector activities in the Cerrejón mine and I am aware of the negative publicity concerning the mine. I continue to be concerned by reports of the detrimental impact of the mine on the environment and on local communities.
As the Deputy will be aware, matters relating to the ESB fall under the remit of my colleagues, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment. However, as I have stated in the Dáil, as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I will look into this matter, and I intend to write to the Chief Executive of the ESB regarding this issue.
Our new Embassy in Bogotá has also been engaging on this important issue. While officials have not yet visited La Guajira, where the Cerrejón mine is located, they have been following the situation in the region closely. Officials have met with representatives of the mine and have discussed the human rights issues that have been raised by civil society groups in the area. Officials have also discussed the situation with partner organisations in Colombia that are involved in monitoring human rights in the area.
Embassy officials intend to visit La Guajira in the near future and meet with human rights defenders and civil society groups. Planning for the visit is advancing and the Embassy has engaged with relevant stakeholders to assess the most suitable and constructive time and to ensure the necessary conditions for the visit to take place. This effort requires thorough planning including liaison with EU and UN Missions in Bogotá, and a thorough security assessment to ensure appropriate security measures are in place.
The Embassy has also been engaging on this issue with the EU Delegation in Bogotá. The EU Head of Delegation has visited the Cerrejón mine in order to hear stakeholders’ views on the allegations and to assess the situation on the ground.
I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to engage on this very important issue and will monitor developments closely. I will to report to the Dáil with any further relevant information when I have raised the matter with the ESB.