Los Cerros (ASX:LCL) has received an award from the Quinchia Regional Council regarding its robust ESG policy surrounding the company’s 100% owned Quinchia Gold Project, in Risaralda, Colombia.
In a televised event, Quinchia Mayor Absalón Trejos Arias recently spoke of the economic and social benefits of having Los Cerros (known locally as Miraflores Compañía Minera) within the community and stressed the consultative, open and trustworthy behaviour the company has demonstrated time and again.
The mayor complimented Los Cerros on its dedication to hiring and training locals and the positive impact this has had, especially during the difficult Covid period. Trejos then proceeded to read formal resolutions of the Quinchia Regional Council recorded in formal council minutes and also presented personally to Los Cerros Managing Director Jason Stirbinskis.
Speaking to Mining.com.au ahead of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney in November where Los Cerros will showcase its assets, MD Jason Stirbinskis said the company for a long time has taken its ESG responsibilities seriously.
“Whilst we have adopted an international ESG reporting standard, it is just that ‘a reporting standard’. Real impact is achieved by what we do on the ground.
“Whilst we have adopted an international ESG reporting standard, it is just that ‘a reporting standard’. Real impact is achieved by what we do on the ground”
Our long-standing mantra has been ‘buy local, train local, hire local’, and this has seen the company evolve into an integral part of the local social and economic structure.
The company is now almost entirely Colombian (98% of the team) with just the CEO and CFO not Colombian. Similarly, almost all the team live in Quinchia and almost all suppliers are local businesses.”
Located in central west Colombia, 100km south of Medellin, and 70km south of the company’s Andes Gold Project, the 10,500ha Quinchia Gold Project is part of the Mid-Cauca Gold belt which hosts many multi-million-ounce discoveries. The project has a JORC compliant Reserve of 0.46Moz within a JORC compliant Resource of 0.84Moz at Miraflores, 1.3Moz at Tesorito and 0.46Moz Inferred Resource at Dosquebradas for a total Quinchia Resource of 2.6Moz.
As Stirbinskis notes, the town of Quinchia is home to just 15,000 people and is a hub for local agriculture – mainly small family coffee and plantain growers – so social engagement is critically important for the mining company.
“There is an artisanal mining workforce of 100-plus people mostly small scale family operations supplementing income from other activities. We work closely with the artisanal stakeholder group to develop other forms of income (eg Quinchips) to reduce reliance on mining as it is a very unsafe and environmentally damaging activity.
In addition to the ‘Miraflores somos todos’ entrepreneurial program, we also support local sport, education/scholarship and civil activities. We have a permanent ‘shop front’ in Quinchia where locals are welcome to walk in for information/updates or to express any concerns they may have. I use the phrase ‘shop front’ as it is on a busy road and opens onto the street when the roller door is up – no office feel, no barrier to pass etcetera.”
In terms of what Los Cerros is doing within the community that sets it apart from other miners, not only in Colombia but across the globe, the MD succinctly stated: “Immersion!”
He noted that the company’s mantra and the addition of being open (even to its detriment on occasion), being consistent and trustworthy in the eyes of the local communities has meant Los Cerros truly is part of the local socio-economic landscape.
“We have a local initiative called ‘Miraflores somos todos’ which translates to ‘Miraflores is all of us’, we are known locally as Miraflores, which is also the name of the Quinchia sub-region where we are most active. Under this initiative, which is led by the community, we consider the merits of community and entrepreneurial projects for company support.”
Stirbinskis adds that in Colombia the ‘S’, or ‘social’ aspect of ESG, is a critical part of doing business, adding that the potential of the local community to impact the industry, both positively and negatively, is greater in Colombia than anywhere else he has worked.
“Similarly, the potential of the industry to positively impact local stakeholders is very significant and I see that as a huge opportunity to make a difference. It’s not a case of being dismissive of the E and the G, its being in an industry that is often a first mover into regions that desperately need economic and social support – the S.
Our investment in our communities is why key stakeholders made the statements they made last week. As we now migrate into development investigations of the 2.6Moz we have defined thus far at Quinchia, our potential to have even greater positive impact could increase dramatically in years to come.”
As mentioned earlier, Los Cerros has about 100 employees, 98 of them Colombian. The company is searching for gold in Risaralda state, near the town of Quinchia.
Stirbinskis notes that for the Quinchia farmers it’s a daily struggle to make a living, and one day while drinking coffee over a meeting, the MD worked out it was about 40 cents a cup – a fraction of the cost of coffee in Australia.
“So, I wondered where the other 4 dollars I pay for a coffee in West Perth goes? That’s how Quinchia Coffee started.”
Los Cerros has teamed up with a Fremantle-based coffee importer, Microlote (‘small batch’ in Spanish) to buy coffee directly from the Quinchia farmers’ collective and sell it in WA, bypassing many of the steps that add to the cost of a Perth coffee.
Stirbinskis notes that this is just one aspect of the company’s commitment to social engagement as part of its ESG policy.
Los Cerros is an ASX-listed exploration and mining company. In August 2019 Metminco merged with Andes Resources to form Los Cerros resulting in a dominant position within the Andes and Quinchia regions of the Mid-Cauca Gold Belt of Colombia.
Los Cerros’ primary focus is the 100% owned, 10,500ha Quinchia Gold Project, which has JORC compliant Reserves of 0.46Moz within a JORC compliant gold Resources of 0.84Moz at Miraflores, 1.3Moz at Tesorito and 0.46Moz Inferred Resource at Dosquebradas for a total Quinchia Resource of 2.6Moz.
In addition the Quinchia Gold Project includes advanced prospects at Ceibal and Chuscal plus several other early stage prospects. The Andes Gold Project consists of a 90% interest in 85,000ha of tenements also within the Mid-Cauca Gold Belt. Only 10% of the expansive portfolio has been systemically explored but already delivered 12 epithermal vein type gold/silver targets and multiple gold/copper porphyry targets.
Write to Adam Orlando at Mining.com.au
Images: Los Cerros Limited