Colombia’s Government to fine Cemex US$155m

Colombia’s Government to fine Cemex US$155m
Published: 17 July 2010

Cemex acknowledges that while the environmental authority in Colombia has not made the notification official, it recognises that it could be fined US$155m for alleged damages to the river Tunjuelo from the exploitation of a quarry located in Bogotá. In addition to the potential penalty, the government has stopped operations. 

"Although there is still no formal quantification of the possible fine, the District Department of Environment, Bogotá has publicly stated that the fine may amount to COP300,000m (about US$155m)," reports Cemex. 

In the first week of June, the District Secretariat of Environment (SDA) of Colombia ordered the stoppage of mining activities of stone aggregates to Cemex and Holcim cement and another local company, saying that for six decades they have changed the Tunjuelo river flow illegally, using water without permission and improperly using the river banks for mining activities.

Before the charge, said the owner of the Tolteca cement brands and Monterrey, on June 11 last, local authorities in Bogota, in compliance with the decision of the District Secretariat of Environment of Bogotá, blocked the passage of machinery to the mine and prohibited the extraction of aggregates. 

Cemex has demanded the withdrawal of the injunction, arguing that its mining activity complies with applicable environmental laws and that all environmental impact statements were reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development. 

The Colombian unit of Cemex said that "is considering its legal strategy to defend against these procedures," but for the moment can not assess the likelihood of an adverse outcome or potential damage that could be attributed to the company. (The Weekly Agency, ESA)