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Tires from mining vehicles lay on the shore of a beach in Palomino, Colombia.
Coal mining picked up steam, transforming the Colombian countryside just as it did England’s green and pleasant lands all those years ago, as huge mines dig deep into the heart of the Andean foothills and outskirts of the Amazon basin to get at the coal that provides Colombia with significant export earnings from China and the EU, among other destinations.
The environmental damage that this industry causes is monstrous, both at the local level through deforestation and pollution, and at the global level by releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases and particles into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and climate change. However, given the spread of Colombia’s many indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities across rural areas, the fallout from mining often has a human face as well, as entire villages are routinely forced from their land, or at the very least have to live with polluted surroundings and loss of natural habitat that is crucial to their land-based way of life.