UPDATE 1-PDAC-Colombia may not compensate Santander explorers

Mon Mar 4, 2013 5:23pm EST
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TORONTO, March 4 (Reuters) - Colombian officials said on Monday that the country is not currently planning to compensate mineral explorers whose licenses are affected by a new wilderness park in Colombia's northeast.

At this point, the government is not thinking of "any compensation," Natalia Gutierrez, vice minister of mines, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Prospectors and Developers Association conference.

She repeated that companies that already have environmental permits to mine will be allowed to do so until their permits expire. But explorers who have been active in the region but have yet to receive a permit would lose any mineral rights that fall within the boundaries of the new park, she said.

Colombia said in January it would create a 12,000-hectare (30,000 acre) wilderness park in an environmentally sensitive area of Santander province, an area rich in gold and silver.

Several junior miners have explored in the region, including Canada's Eco Oro Minerals, whose shares fell 9.8 percent on Monday.

A spokeswoman for Eco Oro said the park would have only a marginal impact on the company's flagship Angostura project.